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Natura 2000 and regional economies

What is at issue?

When it comes to designating Natura 2000 sites, the extent to which this could lead to economic disadvantages for the respective regions is often discussed. We conducted a study to examine the regional economic impact of Natura 2000 sites with particular regard to agriculture, forestry and tourism.

What is the benefit?

On the basis of specific and concrete data, the study came to the conclusion that the designation of Natura 2000 sites – naturally located in peripheral and rural regions – generally tends neither to lead to any distinct positive nor to any substantial negative impact on regional economies. The structural challenges of the mostly rather rural Natura 2000 municipalities tend neither to be significantly aggravated, nor solved, by the designation of a protected area. In individual cases, the designation of a protected area can indeed lead to negative effects, e.g. in the agricultural sector or when it comes to expanding agricultural holdings, however, positive regional effects can also be observed, e.g. through agricultural subsidies or due to landscape conservation for tourism. Against this backdrop, considerations regarding the regional economy are of no central significance as core arguments for or against the designation of a protected area.

Pictures from the project


What do we do?

Suske consulting was responsible for analysing the effects of Natura 2000 sites on agricultural. On the basis of IACS data as well as data provided by Statistics Austria, the study examined, inter alia, whether the presence of Natura 2000 sites in the Austrian municipalities affects agricultural developments, the extent of agricultural subsidies or the implementation of rural development projects. For this purpose, municipalities with Natura 2000 sites were compared with municipalities without Natura 2000 sites in order to identify any differences.


In addition, we examined selected authorisation procedures by means of qualitative interviews and identified possible areas of concern as well as possibilities for improvement.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the Vienna University of Technology as well as with university professor Gottfried Haber of the Danube University of Krems. It was successfully completed in 2016.

What else?

«Natura 2000 sites do not kill tourism nor agriculture.“

Gottfried Haber, Danube University of Krems

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