The Alps as Common Ground

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The expansion of the Alps’ developmental structure leads to their increased integration into the urban networks of the surrounding metropolises. This enables both the exploitation of the Alps as a metropolitan park landscape and as an attractive settlement area, which leads to an increased formation of spatial contrasts already evident today: the intensified use of the easy to reach Alpine areas increasingly contradicts the more extensive use up to the abandonment of the remaining Alpine areas. If this trend continues, it will lead in extreme cases to the loss of the Alps as an autonomous cultural, living and economic area; furthermore, the Alpine peripheral regions will become merely additional areas of the extra-Alpine metropolises.

When considering the Alps as common ground of the surrounding metropolitan areas, an alternative interpretation results and a new potential opens up regarding the Alps’ future development. Assuming that settlements and an accompanying urban concentration will increase along the edge of the Alps, they would no longer only be partially assigned metropolitan park landscapes, but central to the region. Regarding the Alps as common ground and a resource claimed by various users, their future could lie in a collectively renegotiated, sustainable user relationship. This relationship combines and overlaps traditional, agricultural (endogenous) usages with extra-Alpine, urban (exogenous as well as ubiquitous) ones, thus ultimately allowing a responsible use of resources of the Alpine landscape. (Werner Bätzing, «Die Alpen. Geschichte und Zukunft einer europäischen Kulturlandschaft», Munich: Publisher C.H. Beck, 2005, P. 335.) This could result in a common central landscape of the surrounding metropolitan areas – not based on traditional images and ideas, but creating new images and meanings – and above all developing strategies on how to deal with areas with little potential.