The cultural landscape Wachau is a river landscape in a breakthrough valley of the Austrian Danube between the cities of Melk and Krems. It is rated as one of the oldest settlements areas of Europe. It was developed over centuries by viticulture and fruit farming to a largely organic and harmonic unique cultural landscape.
The unique landscape qualities of the Wachau were declared a „landscape conservation area“ (Landschafsschutzgebiet) already in 1955 and distinguished with the European natural conservation diploma by the Council of Europe in 1994. This diploma is distinguished only to cultural landscapes of high quality and value concerning a scientific, cultural, aesthetic and/or recreational view.
The Wachau cultural landscape was declared as „continuing landscape“ in the framework of the UNESCO world heritage conventions. Thus it is strongly influenced by interactions between humans and nature in a permanent process of change. The aim of the analysis was to gain an overview on these complex topics. The case study Wachau – with no claim to completeness – rather illustrated possible approaches.