Grosses Walsertal

© Thomas Schwarz
Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Reserve

Six villages within a single alpine valley form the Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Reserve, situated in the western part of Austria. The valley is a prime example of a living cultural landscape, where, since its occupation by the Walser people in the 13th and 14th centuries, a system of highly adapted mountain farming, pasture and extensive forestry has been developed.

Designation date: 2000
Administrative authorities: Biosphere Park Committee for the Great Walser Valley Biosphere Park
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 19,200 ha
Core area(s): 4,010 ha
Buffer area(s): 2,824 ha
Transition area(s): 12,366 ha

47°17'5"N - 47°9'6"N
Longitude: 10°3'8"E - 9°46'8"E
Midpoint: 47°13'8"N - 9°54'8"E

Ecological Characteristics

© Karl Heinz Martin
Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Reserve

Forests, meadows, ravines, springs, streams, hills, cliffs, mountain tops, alps and karst formations: Due to its geological and morphological variety the entire Grosses Walsertal valley is a single huge biotope rich in flora and fauna.

As an example, the valleys famous mountain meadows contain many herbs, various types of gentian and orchids. 90% of the Grosses Walsertal biosphere park is natural and cultivation landscapes. But nature is not the only topic here: Great attention is laid on developing possibilities to earn money and further to keep living in the valley: For a long time, livestock farming was the essential lively-hood here.

Today, most of the workforce commutes elsewhere to their jobs. In the valley itself, the possibilities for earning a living are farming, tourism and a few skilled trade enterprises. Development zones 6,393 acres (13%) Living, economic and recreation space for residents and visitors. The entire permanent settlement area of the Grosses Walsertal valley is part of the development zone. Cultivation zones 32,942 acres (69 %) In the Grosses Walsertal valley, these are primarily mountain forests, alpine pastures and traditionally cultivated mountain meadows. Core zones 8,165 acres (17%)

In the Grosses Walsertal valley, they are the nature conservation areas Gadental and Faludriga-Nova, the mountain river Lutz, the Kirschwald- Ischkarnei area, the Tiefenwald moor region and Rote Wand (literally “Red Wall”), the highest mountain of the valley. This zoning has not created any new regulations; each of these areas already had a special protective status under nature conservation laws prior to the new zoning.

Socio-economic Characteristics

© Dietmar Walser
Hiking in Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Reserve

Walserstolz (Walser Pride): High-quality mountain cheese from the region.

Our partners: About 40 tourism companies have committed themselves to nature by complying with a criteria catalogue.

Mountain timber: A project for the marketing of high-quality eco-timber with certified origins.

Box with delicious specialities: Marketing support for regional produce.

Renewable energy: The efficient use of energy has high significance in the biosphere park.

Excursions and environmental education: Experiential weeks for schoolchildren and an extensive excursion program for visitors of the biosphere park.

Walser EigenArt: Typical crafts from the Walser valley

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                                                                                    Last update: January 2014

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