Picture credits: Tirol Werbung/Mallaun Josef

Closeness to nature

Living with nature and appreciating its benefits – the people in Tirol can do that only too well.

You protect what you love

The people in Tirol use the healing effect of their oasis for their health and well-being and the meadows for their animals and for producing healthy food. Yet they have always respected and protected the natural surroundings: "in harmony with nature" being their motto.

People started to discover the healing effect of bushes, flowers, herbs, etc. very early on. The Greek Dioscorides wrote his "Great Pharmacology" on the effects of plants in the first century AD. Ötzi, who had crossed the Alps in the Neolithic Age, had had a basket with birch bark on him in Tirol. And the Tirolean Jesuit pharmacist Sigismund Asperger (1678-1772) used his knowledge of medicinal plantology or phytopharmacy when he treated the Paraguayan population in the 18th century.

People knew from experience back then as well as today: St. John's wort is helpful for nervous disorders and skin irritation, arnica for bruises and aching muscles, Swiss pine has a calming effect and gentian stimulates the bowel functions and relieves fever. Nowadays, people want more details. Especially in Tirol where people live in such close touch with nature. This is a reason why an internationally recognised research interest in phytopharmacy has evolved at the Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Innsbruck. It is headed by the university professor Hermann Stuppner, who is also the president of the Herbal Medicinal Products Platform Austria.

The fact that about 80% of the world's population uses herbal medicines at least sometimes to treat their illnesses, that of the 300,000 - 400,000 species to be found worldwide only 5–10% have been analysed for their substances and pharmacological effects, shows just how much potential there is in active substances found in nature, according to Stuppner (see interview here). Due to their analysis expertise, Stuppner and his team often assist leading herbal medicine companies such as the German company Bionorica SE. The company even established its own office in Innsbruck (see article). Working together, they want to make high-tech medicinal products based on natural ingredients available to everyone. Scientifically researched. Backed by clinical trials. But with fewer side effects than chemical alternatives.

High-quality products from natural resources – this is still how Alpine farming in Tirol works. Whereas in the valleys in summer people predominantly work in the material goods, trade and services sectors, herdsmen and women look after 107,000 cows, 3.000 horses, 69,000 sheep and nearly 6,000 goats on the 2,000+ pastures . After all, more than three quarters of the farmers in Tirol drive their cattle up to the mountains in summer. The animals can enjoy their freedom there and run around on lush meadows as well as feed on especially nutritious grass, flowers and herbs. The herdsmen and women still manage to create the perfect environment for producing quality products such as pasture milk and mountain cheese even though the conditions on the mountain can be harsh sometimes. And this also gives the Tirolean food industry a great advantage.

But the people in Tirol not only benefit from the natural Alpine environment. They also find it important to protect and conserve the Alpine flora and fauna and to treat nature respectfully. This is why there are 84 protected areas in Tirol, covering one quarter of the territory. 14.5% of the area belongs to nature reserves that are in the Natura 2000 European network (see article). The aim of this network is to preserve the biodiversity of Europe. Tirol has a special standing thanks to its large variety of landscapes: the rugged cliffs, pastures, spruce forests and the alluvial forests near the valleys are unique in Europe – in the heart of the Alps, in Tirol.



Are you thinking of visiting one of the 2,000+ pastures farmed in the summer? Here's the perfect guide book:

Stories from the pastures

Book tip:

Irene Prugger narrates: "Almgeschichten - vom Leben nah am Himmel" ("Stories from the pastures - about life close to the heavens").

Find out more


With the aim to conserve natural habitats and wildlife: