National Park Forest

Press release 11.07.2022

When natural forest dynamics and foresters join forces

The forest of the future grows in the Gesäuse National Park

Science says that - due to global warming - the forest of the future will look different. Where spruce dominates today, beech and fir will return in the future and new tree species such as oak will feel at home. You can see what this will look like where in the Styrian forest on the Internet, because the province of Styria has developed a simulation for this purpose. (https://www.agrar.steiermark.at/cms/ziel/151504582/DE/).

Practice also shows that our forests are going through an unstable period. The effects of storms, bark beetles and ash disease are all too visible!

Given these not at all rosy general conditions, it is astonishing how the forest in the Gesäuse National Park is setting itself up in a new and climate-friendly way. Attentive observers will not fail to notice that the National Park forest is becoming more "colourful". Where decades ago timber was harvested and the forests were reforested with (mainly) spruce, mixed forest is now growing back. Of course, spruce is still naturally present, but pioneers such as hazel, birch and rowan are beginning to take over with deciduous tree species such as maple and beech. This diversity is what makes a forest whose main purposes are biodiversity and soil protection.

Forester Martin Zorn: "I am thrilled with the power and intensity with which the hardwood regeneration explodes where light comes into the stands. These will certainly become wonderfully stable forests."

The Gesäuse National Park is only 20 years old this year. How can this rapid development of the forest be explained? The reason is the interaction of natural dynamics and successful management measures! In suitable places, forest development was really set in motion by strong thinning measures. In most places, however, non-intervention simply allowed the development to take place, or supported it through appropriate game management. Indeed, game management takes place where forest regeneration is sensitive. And by gradually abandoning all feeding, a forest-compatible and near-natural deer population was achieved.

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