Intensively farmed areas are most common in broad valleys and on easily accessible slopes. The negative impacts associated with this kind of farming are mainly due to the massive use of fertilizers, grading, and drainage. It is also the source of homogenisation and monoculture crops.
Conversely, the traditional labour-intensive farming areas, where different agricultural products are produced over small surfaces, are being wiped off the map as the older farming generations disappear and alpine pastures are abandoned.
This often entails a loss of biodiversity, as species-rich meadows are replaced by a thick bush cover and eventually, completely erased by the return of the forest.
In the upper reaches, a small number of big farms with very large numbers of cattle convert mountain meadows and pastures into heavily fertilized ‘green deserts’.
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The new face of Agriculture
Agriculture in Alpine valleys is being intensified while more traditional forms of farming are abandoned.
© Infographic for Alpine ecoregion: dry meadows. © WWF European Alpine Programme
Species rich mountain pastures are either converted into heavily fertilised 'green deserts' or overgrown by forests.