The need for providing public goods in remote and marginal areas

By amarechal.

 by Thomas Dax, Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas

In the final stage of the PEGASUS project, three workshops aimed at testing our emerging findings by highlighting specific perspectives. The workshop in Vienna focused on exploring in more detail the potential for provision of environmental and social benefits through farming and forestry in remote and marginal areas, including mountains. It thus started from the conviction that “environmental and social beneficial outcomes” (or “ESBOs”), as we have termed in this project, are particularly important in mountain regions and relevant for (extensive) land management systems in these areas.

For the audience of almost 60 interested experts, administrators and stakeholders from various Western and Central European countries, the European scale of common challenges in mountains became visible in the presentation of the emerging findings of the project results and a series of case studies from selected mountain areas. The assessment of current trends of ESBO provision indicators reveals that, despite increasing acknowledgement and efforts, European regions are not on track to curve negative trends (e.g. biodiversity loss) and land management systems have not yet changed sufficiently to secure ESBO provision in the future. The PEGASUS project therefore intends to showcase the potential of positive examples, which often were found to be associated with the adoption of collective approaches, increased engagement by local and regional stakeholders and a supportive policy framework and institutional support mechanisms. A step change is needed to achieve the targeted outcomes, which in turn requires a real “cultural shift” in the way agricultural and forest land is currently managed.

The four case study examples presented at the workshop in Vienna showed useful local initiatives with both economic and ecological beneficial outcomes. The different contexts (case studies from Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic and Italy) underscored the relevance of the spatial context, but also the importance of the institutional and policy framework and historical legacies. Core topics of the discussion included the wide range of drivers which can trigger the emergence of collective initiatives, the various types of ESBOs which can be addressed by such initiatives, the need to shape and nurture public appreciation, and the combined effects of private activities and public support.

As the workshop took place one day after the publication of the European Commission’s communication on “The Future of Food and Farming”, much of the policy discussion focused on the potential changes and linkages of future CAP developments to the provision of ESBOs, in particular in mountain areas. In contrast to the communication, which hardly mentions Areas of Natural Constraints or mountain regions, the discussions highlighted the crucial need to investigate new types of approaches which can deliver ESBOs in mountain areas and the policy implications of this. The Commission’s proposal for a “new delivery model” does not yet provide sufficient detail at this stage and it is therefore unclear to what extent it will take account of the need to deliver public goods. As land use changes have an outstanding long-term effect and decisively influence on ESBOs, forest management should also be considered in its implication for ESBO provision. While agricultural and forest management usually are treated separately, the debate at the workshop made clear that a more holistic view is needed to achieve more effective public goods delivery.

The workshop thus investigated in detail how ESBOs in a mountain context could be strengthened and which policy design could be most appropriate and useful in a future CAP. On a more long-term perspective and a more active note, the project results encourage to work towards changes that support collective actions and search for combined private-public solutions. Such a development will not happen without a clear and firm commitment on acknowledging the increasing search for public goods by the public and appreciation of the long-term needs of ESBOs. Future policies will need more and better trained facilitators and to evolve towards more cooperative approaches, creative initiatives and strategic assessment of diverse land management options. Such a policy focus might be even more relevant in mountain areas than elsewhere.


In the coming weeks, the PEGASUS team will continue to develop these ideas to draft more operational recommendations addressed to policy-makers and practitioners. 



December 2017


PEGASUS Final Conference - Delivering environmental and social benefits from agriculture and forestry in a changing policy context

By amarechal.

It is clear that current policy frameworks and their implementation have not been sufficient to counter the ongoing trends of environmental degradation and achieve the changes required to ensure the long-term, sustainable provision of public goods and ecosystem services from EU agriculture and forestry. To improve this situation, changes are required in policy design, in the commitment of Member States to taking action for a more sustainable future and in the actions of the millions of land managers across the EU. These changes will be especially relevant if the CAP is to evolve towards a new delivery approach based on performance and results.

These issues have been the focus of the 3 year PEGASUS project and will be centre stage at this final conference on 7 February 2018, in Brussels. The event will take you through a summary of the results of research, including 34 case studies, on concrete ways to enhance the provision of public goods and ecosystem services by agriculture and forestry, and what this means for policy and practice. The event will provide a number of opportunities to:


  • Debate a range of  findings and approaches, including the lessons for policy and for practice and the use of maps as a tool to explore links between farming and forestry systems and the provision of environmental and social benefits;
  • Contribute to an evolving policy debate in Europe;
  • Network with key stakeholders, researchers and other interested parties.

These discussions are intended to feed into the debate on how national and EU policies and governance models could evolve post 2020, including the Common Agricultural Policy.


Registration is now closed 

The agenda is available here

For any questions, please email 



Emerging findings from the PEGASUS project

By amarechal.

by Anne Maréchal, IEEP

Reviewing the evidence gathered over almost 3 years of research in PEGASUS, this article presents a summary of the findings emerging from the project so far.

 PEGASUS, and therefore its findings, are drawn from a number of different strands of work:

  • an analysis of policy, market and institutional drivers in 10 countries;
  • the mapping work showing linkages between land management systems and the provision of public goods and ecosystem services; and,
  • the results of 34 case studies across the EU.

In the 34 PEGASUS case studies, ten PEGASUS teams investigated a variety of approaches taken by a range of stakeholders – such as farmers, environmental bodies, businesses, local, regional, national authorities, etc. – to incentivise the provision of public goods and ecosystem services in rural areas. For this, the teams have engaged in depth with the views and experiences of these different stakeholders. These “case study initiatives” provide a rich source of experience to inform thinking about how such actions can develop in the future, including within the Common Agricultural Policy.

Firstly, the initiatives and actions have generally sought to provide multiple benefits - economic, environmental and social benefits – in combination. These benefits can often be delivered more effectively when the approach and delivery mechanisms they rely on were chosen and designed in a collective effort from various key actors. Also, when these approaches are designed and implemented with a ‘territorial approach’ in mind (e.g. ensuring that actions are joined up over a geographic area) or when they are supported by different players along the same supply chain, then the initiatives are more likely to be effective and to deliver a more balanced set of outcomes.

We’ve also found in the case studies that a wide range of triggers (e.g. economic opportunities, environmental problems faced in a particular area / on a particular issue, etc.) can motivate the emergence of a collective initiative. However, in spite of very different origins, having good levels of trust, communication and cooperation between the actors of an initiative are critical ‘success factors’ for enabling the collective action to emerge and for it to be sustained and successful. Having strong local leaders is another critical success factor.

In PEGASUS, we have been interested in cases involving the private sector. In the case studies, we found that private-led initiatives can work well alongside publicly funded schemes in a mutually reinforcing way. For example, in Austria a group of mountain farmers produce organic ‘hay milk’. They receive policy support (income support as well as support for delivering specific environmental and social benefits) as well as a market premium for this quality product. However, there are also cases where private drivers conflict with policy objectives, sending conflicting signals to farmers and foresters. For example, in parts of Portugal, the olive grove production is highly intensively managed - an attempt to maximise economic returns in a competitive sector which comes at the expense of environmental and social considerations. A conclusion we draw from this is that it is important to identify and encourage cases where genuine synergies occur between commercial and societal objectives. This could involve running local surveys to examine potential market opportunities that would fit alongside national/regional environmental and social priorities. It may also involve the use of incentives for such joined up public-private to emerge, such as the use of positive selection criteria for funding.  

The way institutions are structured and operate also have a role to play in the emergence of initiatives aiming to enhance the provision of public goods and ecosystem services from agriculture and forestry. Adapting the institutional settings and governance to local conditions can play a leading role in building trust between stakeholders and with public authorities. For example this could be as much about rethinking the culture of controls and penalties as having the flexibility to adapt the way in which institutional support and engagement can be provided at the local scale. This appears to be especially important where market/economic factors do not provide a strong incentive for stakeholders to organise themselves to initiate action.

Public appreciation can be a powerful trigger for motivating action and cooperation. In some cases, it can be translated into economic or monetary terms, such as in the Estonian case study on a premium grass-fed beef label. In general, increasing the public’s appreciation of environmental and social goods and services from agriculture and forestry systems - and trying to transform this into an articulated demand - would help to increase their provision.

A hot topic in current policy debates is the issue of demonstrating that public funding is delivering its intended impact. It can be difficult to establish causal linkages between a management action on farms or in forests and the related environmental and social outcomes being delivered. This is particularly difficult when working over a short timescale. In the PEGASUS case studies and in our mapping work, we found this to be the case too. In this context, a shift towards more results-focussed schemes may simplify this issue to an extent. The search for appropriate indicators to assess whether or not the result is being achieved may not always be successful.

Finally, we have used a highly participatory approach to carry out the case study work. This has proven to generally be a useful method to capture some of the multiple interactions taking place between drivers, actors, practices and the outcomes delivered. It has nonetheless some limits, which are relevant more widely to many bottom-up, collective approaches – just like the case study initiatives we studied. Because participatory/collective approaches involve different people and dynamic relationships, they inevitably lead to a variety of methods being used and they focus on outputs attracting local support. Consequently, one limitation of the approach is the risk of important environmental or social needs being overlooked (especially when these are more difficult to address such as climate issues). For policy and practice, this could mean that using a bottom-up/collective approach in combination with some top-down guidance could be a successful way forward. 

In the coming weeks, the PEGASUS team will continue to develop these ideas to draft more operational recommendations addressed to policy-makers and practitioners. 

For more information, please read and cite: Maréchal A., Baldock D., Hart K., 2017. Key emerging findings from the PEGASUS project. Report published as part of the Horizon 2020 PEGASUS research project. Available at:



Participatory research helps sustainable landscape management

By amarechal.

By Marta Pérez-Soba & Janet Dwyer

Participatory research helps sustainable landscape management”. This was the overall conclusion of the Symposium on “Social-Ecological Systems and participatory methods for sustainable landscape management”, organised by PEGASUS at the IALE 2017 European Congress ‘From pattern and process to people and action’ in Ghent (Belgium) on 21 September 2017.

With two key notes, 18 presentations, one poster and a final panel discussion, our symposium provided a broad overview of the current research methods and tools that involve participatory approaches with stakeholders. Speakers focused upon the complex interplay of socio-economic/cultural and natural elements within a social-ecological systems framework, rather than only dealing with nature or socio-economics separately.

Whilst the presentations covered a broad range of landscapes, from urban and peri-urban to rural, including European, Brazilian and Japanese cases, they all confirmed the importance of using a range of methods and tools to effectively stimulate the creativity, awareness and active participation of local communities, in order to ensure the responsible planning and management of resources. It was noted that a combination of market-oriented, private initiative with public support measures seems more effective than isolated measures, and that legislative frameworks and audit rules do not always support innovation. Supporting local capacity building is also crucial to develop collaboration skills among the key actors, to make management fully effective and to foster resilience.  

New methods and tools can help to map landscape socio-biodiversity and help to reveal management priorities by identifying which ecosystem services matter to which people. Many of the cases, including the Satoyama initiative in Japan, Montes comunales in Galicia (NW Spain) and Montados in Portugal, showed that many of the connections between human beings and the landscape that existed in the past, have disappeared today. It is therefore important to restore the human-nature connectivity focusing on traditional landscape elements and citizens’ ownership. As cultural landscapes have been built over many years, it is logical to invest in long-term research that enables us to measure the impacts of improved management practices on the ecosystem.

In a society where citizens may valorise their own experience more than scientific or technical prescriptions, it seems crucial that research considers innovative ideas and proposes community-focused solutions to the landscape management challenges facing EU society today and into the future. Participatory methods and tools have a crucial role to play in achieving this.


Photo: Key-note speaker Katsue Fukamachi at the end of her presentation (left), with the organisers Janet Dwyer and Marta Pérez-Soba 




What can we learn from the concept of the commons for collectively managing natural resources? Notes from PEGASUS’ participation in the IASC Congress 2017

By amarechal.

by Anne Maréchal, IEEP

Several members of the PEGASUS team attended and presented papers at the 2017 congress of the International Association of the Study of the Commons (IASC), which took place from 10-14 July 2017 in Utrecht, Netherlands.

The theme of the 2017 IASC congress– ‘Practicing the Commons’ – put an emphasis on the role of practitioners, which strongly resonated with many of us in PEGASUS given our interest in how ‘common pool resources’ can be managed in a collective way and considering that the engagement with practitioners is at the core of the project, especially in the 34 PEGASUS case studies.

The IASC congress provided interesting examples of different types of commons - land or resources managed by a community - their governance and the issues they face in different parts of the world. Commons take various shapes and forms across the world, but their concept as a way of collectively managing natural resources is at threat. Part of this can be explained by the gradual introduction of private property rights which now dominate worldwide. These conflict with common property rights which usually do not define ownership clearly, but govern commoners’ rights (or obligations) to access, exploit or manage a common land or resource. In the EU, few commons are still actively managed by communities, but there are exceptions especially in mountainous and more remote areas (e.g. Scotland, Basque country, Romania, etc.).

What are referred to as ‘common pool resources’ overlap conceptually with the notions of public goods and ecosystem services. The governance of commons is highly relevant to PEGASUS as it reminds us of the ways in which local communities have collectively managed their natural resources in sustainable ways for centuries. Lessons can also be drawn on how the transition away from commons have been managed overtime – not always successfully.  Commons that remain have had to adapt to accommodate modern legal frameworks, for example to maintain the principles of collective action, commons’ governance has usually been formalised through the setting-up an association or a cooperative. Locating the IASC 2017 congress in the Netherlands was thus ideal and the field visits provided many examples of successful cooperatives. 

For instance, some of us went to visit a citizens’ cooperative with about 1,000 members whose objective is to achieve a 100% renewable and independent sourcing of energy. The cooperative’s members all invested a fixed amount which collectively enabled them to build 4 wind turbines, on a piece of land rented from the municipality on a long-term contract. The investment should break even after about a decade and start to provide dividends to the cooperative’s members, in addition to a free supply of electricity from a renewable source.

Although PEGASUS does not focus specifically on the management of commons, many of the lessons relating to the governance of commons resonate with some of the early findings from the PEGASUS research, such as the importance of local leaders in establishing collective initiatives or the role policies (in a broad sense) can play to empower rural actors. Other questions were raised such as the legitimacy of some collective actions, the issue of their durability in the long-term, or the trade-off between autonomy and support from local authorities. Many valuable thoughts which the PEGASUS team is eager to explore in the final steps of the project.  


Balancing markets, traditions and innovations in initiatives where private sector, civil society and policy meet

By amarechal.

by Karlheinz Knickel, IfLS Frankfurt/M.


Two years into the PEGASUS project, a set of 34 sectoral, multi-sectoral and territorial case studies in 10 Member States, focusing on the provision of a range of environmental and social benefits by agriculture and forestry has been completed. These 34 case studies provide a broad appraisal of the connections between farming and forestry systems and the provision of environmental and social benefits under different biophysical, socio-economic and cultural conditions. In 12 of these 34 case studies the analysis has been deepened to better capture the complexity of each single case and to identify and explore, together with practitioner partners and stakeholders, the factors that enable, or limit, an enhancement of the environmental and social impacts of farming and forestry. The approach taken in the case studies has been holistic and exploratory.

The 12 in-depth case studies illustrate the diversity of configurations and approaches taken by the initiatives reviewed in enhancing the provision of environmental and social outcomes in different contexts – and show that there is nothing simple or straightforward! In all cases, we found that there is an intricate, context and location-specific – and dynamic – interplay between different drivers, interests, motivations and mechanisms for delivering environmental and social benefits in different agricultural and forest settings. In some of our case studies, these interactions are mutually reinforcing and beneficial, in others they diverge and may send conflicting signals to practitioners. The PEGASUS case study teams framed their research around social-ecological systems which proved a useful analytical approach to capture this complexity.


In most case studies, if not all, civil society organisations and/or the private sector jointly agree on and work towards a common goal. Reconciling diverging interests and goals, markets, traditions and innovations play a role – sometimes reinforcing each other, and in other instances leading to tensions that require compromise. In all 12 case studies we examined, we could also identify multiple policy frameworks in action, sometimes enabling, and sometimes constraining actions or providing the wrong signals. For example, in the private Liivimaa Lihaveis initiative in Estonia - a label certifying beef fed on biodiversity-rich semi-natural grasslands - an important finding has been that policy support is important but not sufficient in itself to enable a sustained provision of environmental and/or social outcomes and that adding value to products and private sector engagement are equally important. In that case, public and private mechanisms have successfully reinforced each other in enabling collective action and the provision of environmental and social goods and services. In another case, focusing on the tomato supply chain in Emilia Romagna, Italy, the 40-year-long technical and innovation partnership between local stakeholders works on the premise that quality is the key determinant of the supply chain competitiveness. Over the years this has increasingly led to an emphasis on improving the environmental sustainability of tomato production. Governance arrangements and policies, working alongside private schemes are an integral part of the region’s competitiveness strategy.

This is only a very brief overview of the rich case study material PEGASUS has gathered. More information can be found in our synthesis of the case study findings (Deliverable 4.4). An in depth comparative analysis of these findings is now underway. It will deepen our understanding of the interplay of varied factors in delivering environmental and social alongside economic outcomes from agriculture and forestry. In the comparative analysis, we will try to identify where and when problems and conflicts arise when commercial, voluntary and public actors come together. We want to better understand how blockages can be resolved, in particular in regions where under-provision or under-appreciation of environmental and social benefits is observed or where future provision is at risk.  Based on this deeper understanding, especially of factors that are locally or context-dependent, we will be able to elaborate meaningful policy and practical tools and recommendations for decision makers and practitioners at European, national and regional levels.

A first more comprehensive discussion paper on the analysis of these real-life cases with lots of illustrations and references to all case studies is available here.


How is current research on social-ecological systems and participatory methods helping to enhance the sustainable management of natural resources?

By amarechal.

This is the question posed in the Symposium organised by PEGASUS at the upcoming IALE European Congress "From pattern and process to people and action" on 12-15 September in Ghent (Belgium).

In three sessions, international researchers will examine the potential of Social-Ecological Systems thinking to capture the complexity of interlinkages in sustainability challenges and to promote positive action by “linking people and nature, emphasising that humans must be seen as a part of, not apart from, nature” (Berkes and Folke, 1998).

A range of novel methods linked to spatial assessment and stakeholder engagement will be illustrated using more than 20 different case studies, operating in varied contexts. The symposium will include papers from the teams engaged in PEGASUS and other research projects, and a key paper on Japanese experience from the Satoyama Initiative, which aims to promote resilience in high-value cultural landscape management through local action.  Participants will seek to identify common challenges and new and improved ideas for effective action through co-learning by researchers, stakeholders and policy makers, in a closing panel discussion.

For more information, please visit the conference's website or contact Janet Dwyer ( or Marta Pérez-Soba (




Establishment of a consortium to connect the links in the 'mountain wood' value chain in Slovenia

By amarechal.

by Ilona Rac (University of Ljubljana)


On March 31st 2017, representatives from different institutions met in Solčava, a remote village in the Upper Savinja valley in Slovenia, to publicly present their initiative to form a project consortium. The main aim of the initiative will be to establish a wood value chain for mountain wood as a development opportunity for Slovenian hilly and mountainous areas.

 The initiative was presented by speakers from a number of different institutions: researchers from the Biotechnical faculty (Emil Erjavec and Miha Humar) and Forestry institute (Jožica Gričar), representatives from the local community (mayor Katarina Prelesnik) and of the Forest service (Alojz Lipnik), entrepreneurs (Alojz Selišnik and Stanko Kopušar) and marketing (Jurij Pohar), certification (Nace Kregar) and design (Lenka Kavčič) specialists. All interested parties were also invited to sign a Letter of Intent describing the potential of this specific type of wood in Slovenia and the need to cooperate in order to realise this potential. Signatories have committed themselves to participate in the project consortium, which will establish the value chain in the Upper Savinja valley as a pilot project in Slovenia. 

The idea to establish a project consortium has grown out from the case study work carried out in Slovenia for PEGASUS. One of the Slovenian case studies led by the University of Ljubljana took place in Solčava, and mountain wood emerged as a currently undervalued ecosystem service provided in the region. The material’s quality and durability is recognized by foresters and artisans locally, but not (yet) by the wider wood supply value chain. The consortium’s mission will be to rectify this to the benefit of all participants, from forest owners to final end users, as well as society in a broader sense, since an important part of the consortium’s activities will be to promote its sustainable consumption.


Environmental and social benefits of mountain ecosystems discussed at the Mountains 2016 event

By amarechal.

by Lauren Mosdale and Marie Clotteau, Euromontana

What is the International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions?

The International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (ICRSDMR) is a scientific event for sharing and discussing methods, tools, results, applications, trends and challenges in research in mountain systems. This event was organized for the first time in Bragança by IPB-CIMO[1] (and other institutions such as Embrapa, the Chair in Mountain Sustainable Development at Perth University, ADVID and Euromontana) in October 2016, under the theme “Ecosystem services and sustainable development”, as part of the Mountains 2016 event along with the X European Mountain Convention. The conference addressed the current state of mountain science and how its latest conceptual and practical developments can support sustainable development. Ecosystem services, given the relevance of the approach and applications, played a central role in the conference. The conference was also the stage for the formal establishment of research networks that are currently under development. One such initiative is the LuMont – Lusophony Mountain Research Network launched recently with the support of MRI, or the Research Network on Mountain Ecosystems established at the end of 2016 in Portugal (see Euromontana’s article).

Ecosystem services and sustainable development in mountain areas

The sustained provision of environmental and social benefits by mountain ecosystems are vital to mitigate the impacts of two main threats affecting mountains which were discussed at the conference: climate change for the environmental aspect and rural depopulation for the social one. Indeed, climate change is a threat to water resources because of glacier-melt and of shifts in precipitation regimes; to biodiversity because of the migration to higher altitudes of plants and animals and the occurrence of new pests, diseases and invasive species, as well as droughts; and finally, to infrastructure and human lives with the increased risk of landslides due to extreme climatic events. On the other hand, rural depopulation has been an on-going phenomenon for decades driven by a lack of jobs and opportunities in remote areas like mountains, as well as basic amenities, even though mountains are full of resources and cultural heritage. The interlinkage between ecosystem services and the current issues mountain areas are facing is clear, which is why projects such as PEGASUS are important to protect and improve the delivery of those services.

The results brought forward during the conference are further confirmed by the PEGASUS project case studies. Approximatively 10 of the PEGASUS case studies are linked to mountain areas in countries such as Austria, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovenia or even the UK (see list here). What can be concluded regarding ecosystem services from these case studies, which was also underlined throughout the Bragança conference, is that mountain ecosystems are particularly important in the delivery of the following services: conservation of habitats, populations and genetic resources; protection of landscapes and cultural heritage; rural vitality; protection against natural hazards; food production through water and soil management; and climate regulation through carbon sequestration and storage. Thomas Dax, from BABF, the Austrian partner of the PEGASUS team, presented the rationale of the project and selected results from an Austrian mountain case study specifically during the conference (see our article on that subject).

How can these results be integrated in EU or national policies?

One of the final tasks of the PEGASUS project is to publish policy recommendations. Indeed, at the policy level, the European Union and Member States must give more importance to ecosystem services, and integrate recent research results, in order to protect and improve the delivery of those services and so secure the associated benefits.

At the European level, in 2011, the EU adopted the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 setting out 6 targets and 20 actions to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. Target 2 of this strategy (COM/2011/0244) calls for ecosystems and their services to be ‘maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15 % of degraded ecosystems’ by 2020. DG ENV in the European Commission has begun working on mapping and assessing ecosystems and their services, in the context of the mid-term review of the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.

Some Member States have also taken first steps to enhance the provision of public goods, such as in France where the recently adopted “Loi Montagne II” now includes specific payments for ecosystem services (PES) in the endowments granted to mountain communes, or in Italy where the Lombardia Region implements PES schemes in Natura 2000 sites. Also in Italy, but unrelated to PES, the Italian Ministry for Territorial Cohesion presented in 2012 the strategy for the Inner Areas 2014‐2020 to improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing of inhabitants. Based on a comprehensive set of socioeconomic indicators, the concept of inner areas defines municipalities with demographic problems, which are distant from centres of agglomerations and have services with unstable development paths but which are characterised by high attractiveness due to resources not available in urban areas. The Italian Strategy is meant to bring novel means of governance to inner areas and indirectly favour the delivery of ecosystem services through place-based local development plans. In the final phase of its research, the PEGASUS project will make a full review of such existing policy instruments in order to provide policy recommendations for a better and more sustained provision of environmental and social benefits in the EU.


There is no unique solution to integrate ecosystem services in policies, and policy recommendations emanating from H2020 projects such as PEGASUS are a means of bridging the gap between research and policy-making. 


[1] Polytechnic Institute of Bragança - Centro de Investigação de Montanha (Mountain Research Centre) based in Bragança, Portugal


Understanding the relevance of the Biosphere Reserve concept for the provision of public goods in the mountain region of Lungau in Austria

By amarechal.

by Thomas Dax, Ingrid Machold and Thilo Nigmann 


The International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (5-7 October 2016;  Bragança, Portugal) provided an excellent opportunity to present the research objectives and first findings of the PEGASUS case studies carried out in Austria. Speaking during the Symposium on “moving towards sustainable mountain socio-ecological systems: the challenge and promise of cross-level governance”, Thomas Dax from BABF (the Austrian partner in PEGASUS) presented the main conceptual ideas of the project and the first results of one of the 3 case studies in Austria, set in the mountainous Lungau region of Austria.

The Lungau mountainous area is part of a recently approved Biosphere Reserve in Austria. The presentation of the first findings showed that the relevant main environmental and social outcomes of most interest for stakeholders in the case study area are those that are traditionally representative for mountain regions in this region, such as biodiversity, protection of the specific Alpine cultural landscapes and securing an active and socially resilient rural community (“rural vitality”).

Based on the selection of key indicators, the case study found that the Biosphere Reserve designation has had impacts in the region in terms of land use (there is a very high share of organic farmers in the area, about 50%), nature conservation measures and demographic development (e.g. positive external migration balance in recent years).

The case study also found that, in the region, land use is highly dependent upon public support especially funds made available through the Austrian Rural Development Programme, the design of which have a significant impact in the Lungau region as a result. With respect to land use, it seems particularly important to monitor intensification trends in grassland use as well as conversion between agricultural and forest land use.

As tourism is one of the sectors with the highest potential for job development, a thorough investigation of the various dimensions of ‘sustainable development’ seems important if the high-quality goals of the Lungau Biosphere Reserve are to be achieved.

The analysis of the initial phase of the implementation of the Reserve’s objectives show that awareness raising and enhancing local participation processes is crucial for sparking changes towards more sustainable pathways in this mountain context.  


Photo credit: Marie Clotteau



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