Weißbach bei Lofer, Salzburg, Austria

The municipality Weißbach bei Lofer is located in the Saalachtal. It has 428 inhabitants and has an area of 69 km². The village Weißbach itself is situated about 665 m above sea level, other parts of the municipality are located in the direction of Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. The appearance of the area is character-ized by the mountains that are surrounding the municipality.

Due to the narrow location in the valley and the small number of inhabitants, the lower Saalachtal has many people com-muting away from it. Especially for small municipalities such as Weißbach, the collaboration within the region is of great value. In order to solve structural problems together, the municipalities have been collaborating in a regional association since 1977. In the 1990s the common tourism association Salzburg Saalachtal was founded and since 2007 there is the Leader-association Saalachtal.

With the opening of a nature park in 2007, Weißbach has taken a big step towards sustainable tourism. The offers around the nature park contribute to an improvement in the added-value. The cultural landscape is sustainably used as a basis of existence and is being preserved. This also lead to better employment options in the fields of agriculture and forestry. Since the opening of the nature park, both winter and summer tourism have massively increased. Especially remarkable is the fact that the nature park is also integrated in the curriculum of the elementary school. Thus, two main aims are fulfilled: the youngest members of the community learn to appreciate sus-tainability and ecology and the nature park generally becomes a major aspect of the village life.

In 2013, the municipality created a development plan which aims to maintain the municipality’s alpine character and to promote its endogen potential. This is a logical continuation of the initial idea. For example, energy has been a major suspect for a long time and Weißbach is part of the e5-program since 1998. The municipality has a program to boost photovoltaic installments and it operates its own installment nearby the elementary school. The majority of houses is heated by biomass-derived heat.

The associations in Weißbach are diverse and active. There are 800 members in twelve associations – which means that every inhabitant is averagely active in two associations. The integration of the population in decision processes is self-evident and exemplary. During the construction of the nature park, both the responsible as well as the population had a chance to gain experiences in the field of participation. Weißbach’s people’s motivation to take responsibility for the development of their village is thus very high.

By 2025, Weißbach wants to be central nature park municipality of Austria, where all generations live and work in harmony with the nature. Weißbach stands for high quality of life and self-sustenance with regional products and energy.

Evaluated: 2014