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Austria's Rejuvenating Forests

Not only do forests help to keep us connected to the world and the here and now, but spending time amidst trees and nature actually wonders for our soul. You'll be spoilt for choice with a wealth of beautiful forests at your feet in Austria. Read on for a pick of the best.
The smell of fresh earth and wet moss, the sensation of sunlight shimmering through the trees and casting flickering shadows upon the ground. The sound of humming and cooing in the air, and the animated twitter of birdsong. You'd be hard-pressed to get closer to nature than this. Take a walk deep into Austria's forests and you'll soon find that time takes on its own dimension. 

It may not surprise you to hear that nearly half of Austria’s total area is covered with trees, both deciduous and evergreen. Forests flourish in every one of Austria's regions, with Styria, Carinthia and SalzburgerLand boasting the biggest areas of woodland. Even Vienna is a green city, with woodland covering more than 20% of its area. 

 
Nationalpark Thayatal in Lower Austria © Nationalpark Thayatal / Rainer Mirau Nationalpark Thayatal in Lower Austria © Nationalpark Thayatal / Rainer Mirau

Fascinating Forest Facts

  • Forests cover around 47.6% of Austria's landmass, which makes it one of the forested countries in Europe. This equates to the equivalent of land over 5.5 million football pitches
  • Austria boasts more than 3.4 billion trees, spread out over 65 various species of trees. 20% of these are deciduous and 80% coniferous. 61% of the trees to be found are spruce.
  • Some 25% of the country has areas dedicated to preserving nature and landscapes.
  • Austria has a total of 48 nature parks, comprised of valuable cultural landscapes.
  • 3 biosphere parks can be found, in which respect for biological and cultural diversity is incredibly important.
  • The country's 6 national parks are the most ecologically most valuable areas, and conservation of nature is absolutely paramount in these places of natural beauty.

6 of Austria's Most Beautiful Forested Regions

  • Waldviertel: The mystical Waldviertel in Lower Austria enchants with its untouched nature, waterfalls, moorland and practically endless expanses of forest.
  • Styria: Austria's most densely wooded province is rich in forest landscapes, from the floodplain forest in the south to the larch and stone pine forests which sit at almost 2,000 metres above sea level.
  • The Böhmerwald (Bohemian Forest): Nestled in the Upper Austrian Mühlviertel, this is an insider tip for rest and relaxation. Particularly impressive is the magical peace and quiet.
  • Bregenzerwald: This region in Vorarlberg is well known for its unique architecture, which is both traditional and modern, and also for its idyllic expanses of nature. 
  • Silberregion Karwendel: High up in Tirol's Karwendel mountains the Silberregion Karwendel valley boasts around 2,200 maple trees, which make for a wonderful sight all year around.
  • Lungau: With around 50% of its terrain covered in forests, Lungau in SalzburgerLand is simply made for slowing down and catching your breath.

Immerse yourself in the ‘Nordic’ Waldviertel

The Waldviertel (translated as "forest district") district is situated in Lower Austria in the north of the country. Amongst its other natural treasures, it boasts Thaya Valley National Park (named after the River Thaya that meanders through the area) with its wealth of trees, flora and fauna, not to mention wildlife such as eagles, cormorants, otters and beavers. It's also a place where the European wildcat has taken up residence. You'd be lucky to catch sight of some in the wild, as they are such shy creatures, but you can visit a couple in their roomy enclosure at the National Park Centre

During the autumn time, the forests throughout the entire region are particularly beautiful and erupt into a brilliant sea of colours. The effects are particularly impressive because the Waldviertel is primarily decked with spruce trees. 

The village of Drosendorf im Waldviertel is the ideal starting point for exploring the area and taking in the forests that encircle the little medieval municipality. Take a contemplative ramble around the surrounding forest with its still-intact walls, and soak up the extraordinary panoramic views from the steep rock upon which Drosendorf was built. 
 
Wandern im oberen Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at Wandern im oberen Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at

Fabulous Walking in the Waldviertel

  • Wild cat © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart Wild cat © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart
  • Mandelstein, Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at Mandelstein, Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at
  • Morning in the Thaya valley © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart Morning in the Thaya valley © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart
  • Fog in the Thaya valley © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart Fog in the Thaya valley © Nationalpark Thayatal / D. Manhart
  • Wandern im oberen Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at Wandern im oberen Waldviertel © Waldviertel Tourismus / www.ishootpeople.at

The Country's 6 National Parks

From glacial regions to mountains forests and valley rivers in the west to the stepped lakes in the east, the country's six national parks are some of Austria's most important landscapes.

Habitat for endangered is in place here, and the plant colonies are also greatly protected. These regions with their intact biodiversity make it possible to preserve vital ecological treasures of nature. Clean water and pure air are some of Austria's most precious resources and can be found in abundance in Austria, because of the care that has been taken protecting the natural environment. 

Nationalpark Kalkalpen © Franz Sieghartsleitner Nationalpark Kalkalpen © Franz Sieghartsleitner

Austria's Most Forested National Parks

Studying local fern © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Studying local fern © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA

Life in the Forest

Anna Pirtscher is a forest manager in Altaussee. She spends a great deal of time roaming through Styria's woods, which she knows like the back of her hand. She finds the woods give her a sense of security, and she never feels alone. From the wind above rustling through the leaves to the soft crackle underneath when she steps on a branch, nature has a calming effect on her. She loves the clear forest air, with its earthy smell of pine needles, fresh wood and mushrooms. She finds that everything feels so natural and pure in the forests, there's a connection with nature and sense of harmony. Here she can experience life in a way that she simply can't in the city. 

For her work, she often has to leave marked trails. When she walks across the territory to walk over the moss-covered forest floor she has to ensure not to step on seedlings or stumble over tree roots. She checks whether the plants are growing properly, whether trees are safe from pests and parasites,  and monitor the population of carp in the rivers. The environment is incredibly important to her, so she also works in the office of the Austrian Federal Forests, working on nature conservation projects, writing management plans for the promotion of environmental measures and seeing to PR for these projects.

A New Perspective

  • Alpine way of life on the Altausseersee lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Alpine way of life on the Altausseersee lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Music on the landing dock © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Music on the landing dock © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Altausseer lake, Salzkammergut © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Altausseer lake, Salzkammergut © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Anna in conversation with a local © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Anna in conversation with a local © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • An Alpine Sense of Life © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA An Alpine Sense of Life © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Studying local fern © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Studying local fern © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Biking in traditional costume © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Biking in traditional costume © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Crystal clear water of the Altausseer lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Crystal clear water of the Altausseer lake © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA
  • Meet Anna, our forest manager © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA Meet Anna, our forest manager © Österreich Werbung / WEST4MEDIA

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