Regional development in mountain areas and the impact of development on landscapes have been focuses of economic and regional policies in Austria for many decades due to the country's very mountainous topography. A special Support Program for Mountain Farmers was established in the early 1970s. Since the late 1970s, support for regional economies has been defined from a bottom-up perspective. Meanwhile, measures designed in accordance with agricultural and regional policies have become an important component of Austria's mountain policy, with significant implications for sustainable regional development. Assessment of mountain agriculture in Austria has been carried out with particular attention to ways and means of supporting the agricultural sector and to measures aiming to preserve and manage land resources sustainably under the difficult production conditions in mountains. At the core of mountain policy is the valuation of nonmarketable goods, which are increasingly referred to as “rural amenities” in international discourse (Figure 1). Such valuation must be included in comprehensive policy assessments of sustainable development. Emphasis on the character of mountain areas with respect to potential local and regional amenities has made it possible to enhance small-scale development initiatives at the local level. Sustainable resource use in peripheral mountain regions largely depends on the possible development potential of amenities in regional concepts, on nurturing the endogenous potential of the local population, and on inducing appropriate initiatives for balanced development of cultural landscapes and rural society.
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