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    National Parks and Biosphere Reserves in Austria

    Austria's strictly protected national parks and biosphere reserves offer visitors the chance to discover nature in its original, untouched state and experience its scenic beauty first hand. Those who know and appreciate the ecological value of the landscapes will also take care of them after all - and preserving nature means protecting our climate!

    Donau-Auen National Park, Lower Austria

    Protected Nature in Austria


    Nearly half of Austria's Nature is Protected

    Austria is a stunning green country: Almost half of it is surface is covered in trees, more and more of them characteristic hardwood and mixed forests, providing perfect conditions for a thriving flora and fauna. To preserve the natural regions, Austria has put about 48% of its area under special protection. A great deal of effort is required to preserve Austria's unique landscape, its biodiversity and ultimately its recreational habitats for us humans. After all, committing to nature conservation means successfully protecting our climate!

    • In the national parks, the preservation of ecosystems according to strict criteria has top priority. Nature can flourish largely undisturbed.
    • The nature parks reconcile nature and management by humans, who have often been shaping these cultural landscapes for centuries.
    • The model regions of the biosphere parks also preserve the natural regions and cultural landscapes within the framework of the UNESCO programme.
    • A completely untouched natural landscape with rare plants and animals can thrive in the wilderness area.
    • What is a National Park?

      National Parks are designated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) based on strict criteria. In these spaces, preserving ecosystems is the number one priority. They also offer uniquely pristine surroundings to be enjoyed by visitors.

    • What is a Nature Park?

      A nature park protects and preserves cultural landscapes for people and aims to create a deeper understanding of nature conservation and sustainable development. It is home to numerous species. Nature parks are used in a variety of ways - mainly for agriculture, but also for recreation as well as to teach visitors about nature.

    • What is a Biosphere Reserve?

      From the depth of the soils to the Alps and the lower layer of the atmosphere - the biosphere is the region of the earth's surface occupied by living organisms. In the UNESCO biosphere parks, nature is treated in a sustainable way. The ecosystems, which are defined according to international criteria, are protected and maintained accordingly.

    • What is a Wilderness Area?

      A wilderness area is completely spared from human intervention, offers undisturbed habitats for animal and plant species as a primeval forest and plays a significant role in reducing CO2.

    • What can you do in a National Park, and what is not allowed?
      • Are you allowed to ride a bike in a National Park?

      On marked cycle routes leading through the national park area, cycling is allowed. Cycling off the paths is not permitted.

      • Are you allowed to swim or take a boat ride?

      Boating and swimming are permitted in certain designated areas. Flora and fauna are protected on all other bodies of water.

      • Are you allowed to pick flowers and mushrooms?

      No, national parks are valuable natural reserves. Natural materials may therefore not be removed.

      • Are you allowed to camp in a National Park?

      Camping is only permitted on official and explicitly designated campsites.

      • Are you allowed to stray off the designated paths?

      No, the designated routes must be followed. Only then a national park experience in harmony with nature is possible.

    Austria’s Six National Parks: Nature Conservation, Species & Climate Protection

    The ecological diversity of Austria's six national parks is impressive: vast steppes, wildly growing primeval and riparian forests, gentle valley landscapes, rugged limestone mountains and glaciers covered in ice. Each national park has its very own characteristics and role in the world of plans and animals.

    Mountains in the Hohe Tauern National Park

    1. Hohe Tauern National Park in Carinthia, Tirol, and SalzburgerLand

    Austria’s oldest and biggest National Park is known for its biodiversity: 50% of all animal species in the country (15,000 in total) can be found here, including golden eagles, chamois, and marmots. It is split into a core zone (1,213 km2 / 299.738,8 ac) and a larger outer zone (643 km2 / 158.889 ac) and stretches over three provinces.

    The area’s rich, beautiful landscapes include Weißsee Glacier World, Pasterze glacier (Austria’s biggest glacier, where you’ll catch an icy breeze even at the height of the summer), and Europe’s highest waterfalls, the Krimml falls.

    Learn more about the Hohe Tauern National Park

    Gesäuse National Park

    Facts & Figures

    • Area
      1,800 km2 / 444,790 ac
    • Provinces
      Carinthia, Tirol, Salzburger Land
    • Highest mountain
    • Altitude
      1,000 – 3,798 m / 3,281 – 12,461 ft
    • Hiking trails
      4,300 km / 2,672 mi
    • Species

    5 Must-Sees at Hohe Tauern National Park

    Krimml Waterfalls

    Feel the cool spray on your face: Crashing down over 385 metres (1,263 ft) in cascades, these are Europe’s highest waterfalls.

    Adorable Marmots

    Usually shy, some of these large rodents have gotten used to people and can be spotted at the Hohe Tauern National Park. Listen for their distinctive whistle which is used to warn others of impending danger.

    Weißsee Glacier World

    The area's snowy 3,000-metre (9,843 ft) peaks and deep blue Alpine lakes make for a great day trip.

    Rock-Climbing Chamois

    One of Austria’s most iconic animals, the chamois is found on sheer mountain peaks 1,000 – 3,500 m (3,281 – 11,483 ft) above sea level.

    Hiking with Park Rangers

    Wildlife watching, discovering ferns and moss, learning about local insects: A ranger-led hike gives insight into the unique flora and fauna of the Alps’ biggest nature reserve. From exploring Vulture Valley to snowshoe hiking, the expert tours allow visitors to take a deep dive into the region.

    martagon lily in national park Kalkalpen

    2. Kalkalpen National Park in Upper Austria

    Located at the northern edge of the Alps, Kalkalpen (literally: Limestone Alps) National Park is known for its wild forests and crystal-clear mountain streams which are home to rare animal and plant species.

    Exploring the area on bike is a treat – and hikers will find hundreds of kilometres of trails.

    Park rangers can take you on guided hikes to explore the wilderness a little further.

    Learn more

    “When I’m birdwatching at Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Park, I feel like I have arrived. Everything’s so quiet, and all I hear and see is nature’s fantastic spectacle.” 

    Elena Turac, rangerin national park Neusiedlersee Seewinkl
    Elena Turac
    •                         Donau-Auen National Park / Nationalpark Donau-Auen

      3. Donau-Auen National Park in Lower Austria

      Located between Vienna and Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, these wetlands are home to over 800 species of plants and animals.
      Learn more
    •                         Landscape near Apetlon / Nationalpark Neusiedler See / Burgenland

      4. Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Park in Burgenland

      This steppe National Park in eastern Austria features sweeping reef-studded bodies of water, large meadows, and saltwater lakes.
      Learn more
    •                         Gesäuse National Park

      5. Gesäuse National Park in Styria

      Designated in 2002, Austria’s newest National Park features impressive cliffs and crystal-clear mountain lakes.
      Learn more
    •                         National park Thaya valley / Thaya valley

      6. Thayatal National Park in Lower Austria

      Thick forests, steep cliffs, blooming meadows: Go exploring along the Thaya river and you might spot a wildcat in its enclosure.
      Learn more

    Austria's Biosphere Reserves: Where Humans meet Nature

    In UNESCO biosphere parks, environmental protection is the top priority. At the same time, us humans use them for agriculture as well as for sport and recreation. And yet the ecosystems are doing just fine.

    Austria's Nature Parks: Cultivated landscapes for humans and animals

    Nature is used in a variety of ways in nature parks as cultural landscapes - mainly for agriculture and as recreational areas. Careful attention is paid to protecting and maintaining the biological balance and biodiversity. Here are some examples:

    •                         Weinidylle Sumpflilien

      Nature Parks in Burgenland

    •                         Wandern im Naturpark Nagelfluhkette im Bregenzerwald

      Nature Park in the Bregenzerwald

    •                         cycling around lake Plansee in the Nature Park Region of Reutte / Lake Plansee

      Nature Park Tiroler Lech


    Why biodiversity is so important for climate protection

    An intact ecosystem is home to countless species of microorganisms, fungi, plants and animals. All these creatures and the cycle in which they live need each other and are mutually coordinated. As ecosystems in their own right, they make a significant contribution to a functioning climate and provide fresh air and clean water. A healthy forest, for example, filters the greenhouse gas CO₂ from the air. Biodiversity is therefore vital for humans, animals and plants.

    If the balance and interaction of organisms is disturbed by external influences, the intact biosphere begins to falter. However, a stable climate requires a healthy flora and fauna. Austria and its committed regions are aware of their responsibility and are taking numerous measures to preserve and protect precious natural habitats and strengthen biodiversity.

    Your National Park Soundtrack

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