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Rural Development

Mountain Study: Analysis of mountain areas (2002- 2003)

The objectives of this study conducted for DG Regio of the European Commission are:

  1. to define a comprehensive system of criteria for the delineation of mountain areas in Europe,
  2. to establish a comprehensive small-scale GIS-based database for these regions, and finally
  3. to analyse the common problems and potentials of these areas as well as the e ffectiveness of recent EU-policies, measures and instruments for the promotion and further development of these disadvantaged regions.


The study starts with the observation, that a unified definition of mountain areas in Europe is missing, not even among EU member states. Instead, each countries uses own criteria for the delineation of mountain areas. These definition and criteria will be collected and compared against each other in order to identify a comprehensive unified set of criteria for a common definition among EU member states and candidate countries. These criteria will not only over natural and physical phenomena, but also cultural, socio-economic and socio-demographic aspects. After the approval of this definition and after the delineation of mountain areas, a comprehensive small-scale (at NUTS 5 level) GIS-based database will be established which comprises all of the criteria and indicators identified as relevant for mountain areas. This database will then be used as basis for statistical and GIS-based analysis of mountain regions. They will be characterised, compared against each other and against non-mountainous regions, their (common) problems and potentials will be assessed, and finally the effectiveness of recent EU policies, measures and instruments for the promotion and further development of these disadvantaged regions will be explored.
The results of this study eventually will be used as input for the next Cohesion Report of the European Commission, and serve as a starting point for the discussion on the revision of the structural funds in the EU.
The study will be conducted in close cooperation of 19 institutes all over Europe, with the Nordic Centre for Spatial Development (Nordregio - Stockholm, Sweden) as lead partner. IRPUD is part of the so-called co-ordination team (together with Nordregio, SEGESA (FR), the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UK) and the Centre for Mountain Studies (UK), and is particularly responsible for the establishment of the GIS-database and is involved in the analysis part.

Contact: Carsten Schürmann

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