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Alpine way of life

Unwinding outdoors after a day at the office feels amazing. For one lucky woman, this sensation never goes away.

 

Author: Birgit Hartmann
 
It’s the late afternoon and your eyes are tired from staring at a computer screen all day. How great would it be to sit down at the edge of a lake and watch the day draw to a close. Your thoughts become immersed in the gentle, meditative ripple of the water. You reflect on the events of the day and become calmer with every incoming wave. The quiet, the vastness of the lake – this place has an undeniable energy. Now imagine if your workday actually began on the water.
 

Nine-to-five with Mother Nature

Anna Pirtscher is among the fortunate people who work at one of the 2,000 standing bodies of water in Austria – in her case the Ausseersee, an alpine lake in Austria’s lake region. The forestry manager and biologist with the Austrian Federal Forests not only helps maintain the forests, she also tends to the stock of young fish in the local waters. “It is a gift to be able to spend my day here and to support nature in so many different ways,” she says during a break from work. And the Ausseersee is without question one of the most beautiful open-plan offices one could imagine: you commute on a boat instead of the subway, chirping birds sweeten your coffee break, and your favorite coworker is nature itself.

Quality of life like nowhere else

  • Crystal clear water, Altausseer lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Crystal clear water, Altausseer lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • "Alpine feeling of life" © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA "Alpine feeling of life" © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Boat house in the Altausseeer Lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Boat house in the Altausseeer Lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Boat tour with Anna Pirtscher © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Boat tour with Anna Pirtscher © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Music on the landing stage © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Music on the landing stage © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA

Water: a source of energy

Lakes and rivers provide energy. They not only have a reviving effect on the mind, but are actually a valuable resource. Like Austria’s forests, water means something special to Anna – it has an almost magical attraction for her. Humans have always sought to be close to water, in part for evolutionary reasons. After all, water is the most important elixir of life, and as such, the sweeping view across the lake shores gives you a feeling of security. It is no wonder that water has a magnetic effect. This is why Anna spends her free time at the Ausseersee as well, either on her own to take a breather, or enjoying the idyllic spot with friends.
 

LIFE Project Ausseerland

The area around Ausseersee in the Styrian lake region is an ecosystem in need of protection. The 530 acre lake, also known affectionately as the “dark-blue inkwell” because of its deep color, is the habitat for many native fish species such as lake trout, char, and perch. To help endangered amphibians like the Italian crested newt and the yellow-bellied toad reproduce, Anna is involved in the EU LIFE project “Ausseerland.” The project builds ponds where newts can spawn and the young can grow up undisturbed. Other items on the agenda of the young biologist are bog re-naturalization, the introduction of mixed-tree species, and the removal of water barriers “so that nature is allowed to be itself again, at least a little bit,” she says with a smile as she heads off to work - in her open-plan office.
 

Info box water:

  • When it comes to water, not many other countries can measure up to Austria: with its over 2,000 standing bodies of water – including 62 lakes – an impressive groundwater level and a river network measuring some 12,000 sq miles, Austria is one of the most water-rich countries in the world.
     
  • Water comes in all forms and varieties here: as lakes, or as rivers that flow from the mountains into the valleys or that cascade down the mountainside as waterfalls. And in winter, fat snowflakes fall from the sky that in spring again feed the lakes as snowmelt.
     
  • The average annual precipitation in Austria amounts to about 22 cubic kilometres of water. How much is that? Picture the entire contents of Lake Constance, the second-largest lake in Central Europe, raining down on Austria – twice.
  • A particularly well-known kind of rain in this country is Salzburg’s Schnürlregen, or “string rain”, a special form of fine drizzle that looks like it is raining thin threads.
     

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