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© Michèle Dépraz / WWF
Cherished traditions
Human presence in the Alps dates back to Neolithic times and has added to the scale of biological diversity across the region.

The natural wealth characterising the Alps also reflects the historical influence of human presence in the area. About a quarter of all plant diversity is man-made or depends on particular forms of agriculture. Extensively farmed Alpine meadows located at 1800 to 2200 metres above sea level support up to 80 species of plants per hundred square metres.

Some of the many Alpine traditions can also provide practical solutions for conservation management in the Alps. For example, the use of guard dogs to defend livestock against wild predators was once a widespread practice in the Alps and an important strategy for living with bears, wolves, and lynx. Today, this traditional practice has disappeared from most parts of the Alps, resulting in unnecessary conflict between humans and the returning large carnviores. WWF is working with local communities to reintroduce the use of guard dogs in order to increase large carnivore acceptance in the Alps. (Read more...)

Threats to the cultural landscape

In many parts of the Alps, rural areas are being abandoned for the urban centres, where job opportunities are more attractive. This trend has resulted in a loss of traditional practices.


What WWF is doing

The European Alpine Programme coordinates WWF's conservation work across the Alps. Check out Our Solutions page to read more about what WWF is doing to conserve Alpine nature.

Facts and Figures

Ruin of a house in an abandoned village. Verdon, France 
© Anton Vorauer / WWF

The Alps run 1,200 km through 8 different countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
About 14 million people are distributed over approximately 6,000 communities in the Alps.
Population density in permanently settled areas ranges from < 200 inhabitants/km2 (Styria) to >16,000 inhabitants/km2 (Principality of Monaco).
Per capita GDP in the Alps ranges from 10,000€ in Notranjsko- Kraška to 80,000€ in Liechtenstein.
17% of people living in the Alps are older than 64.

Source: Alpine Convention

Up to 80 species per 100 m2 in high Alpine meadows.
© Up to 80 species per 100 m2 in high Alpine meadows. © WWF European Alpine Programme

Up to 80 species per 100 m2 in high Alpine meadows.