Transhumance in the Alps


Transhumance in the Alps

The traditional economy of the Alps throughout history has been based upon rearing cattle involving seasonal migration between valley and high pastures (German " _de. Almwirtschaft, Alpwirtschaft" from the term for "seasonal mountain pasture", " _de. Alm, Alp").

That practice has shaped a lot of landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 2000 m would be forests. While tourism and industry contribute today much to Alpine economy, seasonal migration to high pastures is still practiced in Bavaria, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, except in their most frequented tourist centers. In some places, cattle are taken care of by local farmer families who move to higher places. In others, this job is for herdsmen who are employees of the cooperative owning the pastures.

Transhumance contributes a lot to traditional Alpine culture, such as Yodel, Alphorn or Schwingen.

Some people spent the winters isolated in the high pastures.In Johanna Spyri's novel "Heidi", the "Alm-Öhi" ("high-pasture grandfather") is such a person, despising and despised by the villagers.

History

German "Alm" "seasonal mountain pasture" is a reduced form of "Alben", the original dative singular of "Albe". In Alemannic German, "Alp" remains current. The word is originally identical to the name of the "Alps" itself, probably a pre-Roman (and possibly pre-Indo-European) term for "mountain".

There is evidence of transhumance economy in the Alps dating to the 5th millennium BC (Neolithic Europe).Fact|date=September 2007 [http://www.anisa.at/ AINSA] research found evidence for transhumance in the Northern Limestone Alps dating to the Late Bronze Age Halstatt culture (17th to 10th centuries BC), with pastures above the treeline at 1500 to 2100 m.

tatistics

In 1997, Austria had over 12,000 sites where 70,000 farmers take care of about 500,000 cattle. Alpine pastures amount to a quarter of the farmland.

Bavaria had 1,384 sites hosting 48,000 cattle, about half of them in Upper Bavaria and the other half in the Allgäu.

In Switzerland, about 380,000 cattle including 130,000 milk cows as well as 200,000 sheep are in summer on high pastures. Milk from cows here is usually made into local cheese specialities, handmade using traditional methods and tools. Alpine pastures amount to 35 percent of Swiss farmland.

ee also

*Transhumance
*History of the Alps
*Valleys of the Alps
*Animal husbandry
*Swiss folklore
*pre-Christian Alpine traditions


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