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Spatial Planning in Vorarlberg, Austria : Ecological Aspects of Land-Use Planning and Regional Development under Conditions of a Narrow Space

abstract The Federal State Vorarlberg is an Alpine region with narrow plain space and a rich mountain landscape. For this the regions Rhine Valley and Walgau are confronted with a lot of conflicting land-use patterns. To find new ways to deal with the problem is one of the tasks of the regional development process 'Im Walgau'. The paper describes the approach used for the region.
One part of the task is to work out basic information for planning and decision making including for example the development of the patterns of settlement over time, the inquiry of vacancies. Another part of the task is to gather strategies and concepts with relevance for the spatial development from different departments of the Federal State.
With this information the local communities of the region Walgau start to elaborate spatial development concepts. The specific quality of these concepts is (1) the cooperation between several municipalities in the planning process, (2) the time horizon: 2 generations, 50 years, (3) the definition of regionally significant land-use patterns including the ecological features and (4) a broad participation of the local public. The overall goal is to sign a contract between the municipal level and the federal state level to fix the regional development concept of the Walgau region and make it more obligatory.
Of course there are some restrictions connected with the implementation of such a planning process which show that the learning process of the many actors involved is at the beginning. But at the other hand the region has the idea of some far-reaching measures to make the concept work including new instruments as a 'zone bankbook' and a 'spatial impact assessment'.

Summarizing the process some factors of success can be identified, which from a scientific attitude are important. Planning processes imply ‘to step out from theory into exercise and to face politics’ as Schneidewind (2007:48) told. It is an ‘asymmetric relationship’ affected by different expectations concerning the quality of results and based on different perceptions, system logics, and mechanisms of steering (ibid.: 50).
Scientific consulting of political processes means interaction in a way that does not restrict scientists on providing expert’s opinion. Scientists also are expected to give methodological support to design processes and to give strategic support to integrate the organizational and institutional environment (Sellnow 2007). The approaches range from transdisciplinary agenda-setting (Jaeger, Scheringer 1998, Jahn 2005) to sophisticated modelling tools like cybernetic system modelling (Vester 1999, Honegger 2008).
On the other hand scientific findings should be consistend and verifiable and are far away from politics’ normative appraisals of ‘true’ or ‘false’. In this area of (potential) conflict scientific experts act if they work as scientific consultants for political processes. The paper describes an example of such a process and the role scientific expertise can play.
type conference paper (English)
keywords regional development; spatial planning
name of conference Research Network 'Ecological Regional Development' 2010 - 2012 of the Regional Science Association RSA (University of Hull)
date of conference 16-5-2011
review not reviewed
citation Walser, M. (2011). Spatial Planning in Vorarlberg, Austria: Ecological Aspects of Land-Use Planning and Regional Development under Conditions of a Narrow Space. In .