This project was researched in 2005 by a team of experts commissioned by CIPRA as part of the Future in the Alps Project. The contents are not being updated.
Regional value added
Governance capacity, Policies and instruments
Duration of the project: from 1995-01-01 to 2006-12-31.
(corresponding to 2 periods within the scope of the European initiative Leader).
The project Almenland comprises numerous activities and subprojects which all concentrate on the leading product of the region – “Almo“ (meat of alp oxen). For example, the cooperation of Schirnhofer Ltd. with the regional farmers in the production and distribution of high quality meat, the professional marketing of the regional products and the region itself in Austria (Almenland Marketing Ltd.), Almenland Rooms and Almenland proprietors (tourism providers cooperating in the marketing of their offers), Hiking (“Wanderbare Alm”), Almholz Association (20 farmers process and market small dimensioned wood), Almenland agricultural specialities (45 farmers produce and market regional products, e.g. bread, meat, Almenland herbs, honey, etc.), Weizer Bergland Specialities (regional meat products of different agricultural producers cooperate in the distribution of their products), landscape conservation (Almwirtschaftsverein), Almenland Golf, etc.
Is there made use of endogenous resources? Which ones?
- Regional people who are ready to assume responsibility, i.e. no external management.
- Wood and wood processing.
- Agricultural products ( and the processing within the region)
- The alps themselves represents a touristic attraction.
The concentration on the endogenous resources caused an important economic cycle within the region: the cultivation and strengthening of these resources contributes in turn to their preservation: the alp oxen prevent the afforestation of the alps, etc.
What is the specific relevance of the results for the Alps?
Conservation of the cultural landscape (alps), conservation of the traditional form of cultivation (agriculture) by marketing the regional products and ensuring a high level of quality, cooperation of small companies with a large company (guarantees sales for the small companies, a high level of quality and professional marketing in Austria).
The association „Regional Initiative Almenland“ was founded in 1995. It comprises the 12 municipalities of the region, the tourism office Almenland and all agricultural organisations of the region (Maschinenring Almenland with 1700 members, Waldwirtschaftsgemeinschaft Almenland with 500 members, Consortium Landscape Conservation Almenland, Cultural Committee Almenland, etc.). The inclusion of all these regional organisations and associations guarantees the participation of most inhabitants of the region. For this reason the whole population of the region Almenland is referred to as project participants.
Main responsibilities of the project executive:
- Formulation of the project objectives and an regional development plan
- Realisation of the objectives
- Formulation of projects
- Implemenation of the projects
- Installation of cooperations
- Development of offers and marketing for the whole region (for this reason, Almenland Marketing Ltd. was founded).
Contact person for the region and the project executive:
Telephone: 03179 / 23 000
Contact person for Almenland Marketing Ltd.:
CEO Willi Schweiger (is CEO of the tourism office Almenland too)
Telephone: 03179 / 23 000 - 14
The most important participants are the 13.500 inhabitants of the region. The region has pledged itself to a bottom-up development of projects. In doing so, it provides for the population’s participation by including the existing regional associations and organisations in the projects and planning process.
Further important participants are the 12 regional mayors and the 150 tourism companies. The regional farmers are important partners in the range of cultural landscape conservation and production of agricultural products.
In addition, Schirnhofer Ltd. is one significant regional participant. As owner (60%) of the Almenland Marketing Ltd. it instigates important cooperations dealing with the regional lead product Almo (alp ox).
The project itself generates more and more partners and participants, such as Almholz GmbH & Co KEG (Alp Wood), Weizer Bergland, Almenland Golf.
Important external cooperations:
- Consultancy Agency GfA, Graz (supervision of the whole project),
- Economic Chamber Weiz, particularly the department for tourism and trade (e.g. support in the project „Almenland proprietors“). And what’s more, the chairman of the Economic Chamber Weiz, Hans Spreitzhofer, is one of the key persons for the project.
- Regional banks (Raiffeisen),
- Regional Management Eastern Styria,
- Chamber of Agriculture in Weiz,
- Regional press (Almenland Blick, Weizer Zeitung),
- The province of Styria (support, funding, project processing the province of Styria presents more than a sponsoring partner but provides support and advice on different issues for the participants)
Ernst Hofer (Chairman of the Association Regional Community Initiative Almenland) and Hans Spreitzhofer (Chairman of the Economic Chamber Weiz) are the project’s key persons for industrial and tourism issues. Ernst Hofer represents the driving force of the project, being responsible for the existing cooperation of the 12 municipalities. His commitment and his altruistic way of thinking become manifest in his honorary activity: he chairs about 200 meetings for the project per year – in an honorary capacity.
The 12 mayors’ willingness to cooperate on all project issues (on financial matters too) is a major driving force for the project too.
In addition, Jakob Wild and Michaela Mohr (Regional Community Initiative Almenland) and Willi Schweiger (Almenland Marketing Ltd.) are key persons on the project’s operational level.
The saying „One for all and all for one“ is able to describe the projects overall objective: the precondition for success is cooperation, acceptance, commitment and identification within the region’s population.
Using the region’s resources and boosting its strengths is the only way regional value added may be created. Therefore, the region has to build up economic cycles and instigate a broadly willingness to cooperate among its inhabitants.
- Strengthening the rural region Almenland and its small-sized companies by cooperation on all relevant issues
- Attractive design of the region within the scope of living, recreation and working for the future
- Appreciation of the regional products by the means of a functioning economic cycle
- Improving the competitiveness in the fields of tourism and agricultural products
- Boosting the populations identification with the region for a better quality of living and for the safeguarding of employment
- Implementing solely sustainable projects: developing organisational structures and searching committed partners in order to ensure that the projects can pay for themselves.
- Making use of regional resources and market them inside and outside the region.
- ALMO-Genussregion: The region defines itself via its leading product Almo (i.e. alp ox meat). The regional farmers’ yearly production accounts for 4500 Almos, which are processed by Schirnhofer Ltd and sold by 25 Almenland proprietors and 250 Austrian Zielpunkt stores. The farmers comply with strict quality standards (GM-free feeding, free-range husbandry in summer, etc.) as well as the producer Schirnhofer Ltd. The regional quality assurance system is continuously checked by Greenpeace and animal rights groups.
- Almenland golf course: 70 farmers cooperate within the project Almenland golf course. They benefit from the rent and, what’s more, employment for 30 mountain farmers was safeguarded. The golf course also represents additional income for regional tourism companies.
- Alp hiking,
- Landscape conservation,
- Almenland rooms,
- GM-free region,
- Professional marketing of the region: the marketing of the region Almenland focuses the regional leading product Almo and is performed by the Almenland Marketing Ltd.
- Almenland proprietors: the community Almenland proprietors consists of 22 regional proprietors, the Almo producers (farmers), the regional abattoir and Schirnhofer Ltd. The community provides for the marketing of the regional products in the region.
1. Definition of the project (1-2 years): formulation of objectives and information of the population. Strong external support was necessary in this first project phase: consultancy agency GfA Graz (moderation, project development, support with funding applications, etc.) The participation of the regional population was an important element in the drafting of the regional development plan. This participation was accomplished by inviting the existing organisations and associations to the planning process. Representatives of the regional municipalities, of the Economic Chamber Weiz and of the province of Styria were invited too. The broad base of cooperation guaranteed the information exchange in the region.
2. Capital-intensive implementation on a broad level in 2 parts:
a. Leader 2: project implementation (2 employees for the administration work).
b. Leader+: foundation of the Almenland Marketing Ltd. and initiation of projects focusing the leading product Almo. The marketing by a large concern (Wholesale trade) represents a serious change but at the same time an enormous chance for the region.
3. Actually marketing and development of marketing packages: specialisation and refinement of the existing projects and implementation of specialised projects on the topic Almo. This project phase is very important because it aims at enabling the region and the various initiatives, which have developed within the scope of the project Almenland, to pay for themselves in future.
About 95% of the projects have already been implemented in a sustainable way.
The creation of sustainable structures for each initiative ought to lead them into economic autonomy.
- Local Action Group consisting of 12 municipalities,
- Tourism office Almenland (merger of the 12 regional tourism offices into common the tourism office Almenland),
- Maschinenring Almenland (1.700 members),
- Waldwirtschaftsgemeinschaft Almenland (a community of 600 members which provides for the marketing of regional wood. Furthermore, they intend to foster biomass energy),
- Almholz Gruppe (20 farmers process and market small dimensioned wood),
- Weizer Bergland specialities (1000 companies produce highy quality meat in the region),
- Almwirtschaftsverein (150 alp farmers provide for the sustainment and the landscape conservation of the alps),
- Almenland agricultural specialities (45 farmers produce and market regional products, e.g. bread, meat, Almenland herbs, honey, etc.),
- Bäuerlicher Gästering Almenland (farm holidays).
- The global players in the region entirely support the project Almenland (municipalities, mayors, Economic Chamber Weiz, Chamber of Agriculture, Tourism). This requires that all players agree on common objectives.
- The existence of marketing and distribution partners (Schirnhofer Ltd).
- Rewarding the operative management: such extensive projects may not be conducted on a honorary basis.
- Safeguarding a certain amount of funding for a period of 15-20 years, to ensure the sustainability of the project.
- The regional organisations’ willingness to cooperate, directness and trust in each other. This values may emerge only from intensive public relation activities.
Constant evaluation by the province of Styria within the European Community Initiative Leader+.
Own evaluation by the regional organisations and companies: economic development, financial ratios, annual statistics, overnight stays, etc. The Economic Chamber and the Chamber of Agriculture support the region in this evaluation. Almenland Chairman Ernst Hofer is responsible for the consolidation of the different figures and the presentation during the general meeting of the Association Almenland. The results of the evaluation are discussed with the concerned subprojects: developing solutions and improvements and supporting the groups in the realisation of these activities.
Finally there is another evaluation by the Province of Styria because it acts as financial backer for the project itself.
In the beginning: scepticism among the population and among the politicians. A lot of information and explanations were necessary to overcome this problem. Even today constant information on project activities is an important precondition for success.
Obtaining financial support from the municipalities: the cooperation in financial issues was a completely new experience for the municipalities which demanded long and difficult negotiations.
The cooperation with the regional media established very slowly.
Uncertainty and hardly experience in funding applications in the beginning of the European Community Initiative Leader (1995).
Raising equity capital in the region: consultancy by GfA in Graz, market analyses and further activities which helped to reduce uncertainties and provide support. These activities were funded to a great extent by Leader+ (Technical Aid).
The annual budget of the Association Regional Community Initiative Almenland accounts for 50.000 € (50% Leader+, 50% municipalities). The Leader+ funding is declining and will be restricted in future to 30%.
Schirnhofer Ltd. provides an annual marketing and advertising budget of about € 360.000 for the common marketing of the region Almenland (Almenland Marketing Ltd.).
The different subprojects are financed by the municipalities (90%), the province of Styria, Leader+ and the member fees of the participating associations and organisations (flat sum of € 35).
There are no external investors and sponsors in the region Almenland. The regional banks support the companies and projects in financial matters (granting favourable conditions, etc.).