Agriculture in the Stelvio National Park
Animal husbandry: grazing in the high pastures of the National Park in South Tyrol
At the turn of the century, there were a total of 3,600 farms throughout the National Park. As is usual in the mountain regions, most are cattle farmers and livestock breeders operating on small plots of land near the pastures. In South Tyrol, the mountain meadows have traditionally been used for grazing cattle, sheep and goats.
The amount of available arable land in the highlands is limited, and includes some fruit and vegetable farms. Further down in the valley, grains and other cereal crops are cultivated. Over the past several years, buckwheat has been making a comeback in the Vinschgau/Val Venosta Valley. Where conditions permit, berries, stone fruit, lettuce and vegetables are also cultivated. In the pastures, the mountain dairies produce high-grade butter and fresh Alpine cheeses. These include the award-winning medium-fat “Burgeiser” as well as the hard Trentino Grana cheese, similar to Parmesan. Some of the mountain farms also produce certified-quality South Tyrolean bacon: Südtiroler Speck g.g.A..
The traditional mountain farmers make a significant contribution to the conservation of species diversity as well as preserving the cultural landscape. Traditional professions co-exist with newer work categories that enhance land management practices, such as natural afforestation to guard against the risk of landslides or winter avalanches.