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NAME: Artemis Papadoloulou

Forestry in Austria
INTRODUCTION

About half of Austria's area is covered by forest land. Therefore, the right use of
sustainable management can only be done by a natural oriented forestry. This
guarantees a continuous supply of timber, a steady flow of income for the
owners - the employers as well as for the employees of the forest industry - and
it is also the basis of settlement and agricultural utilization of our environment.
Natural oriented forest management can only be a compromise between
ecological conditions and economic objectives. The conflicting interests of
economy and ecology compel foresters to be flexible since they must deal with
public interests more and more.

A basic principle of Austrian forestry is the principle of sustained yields to


preserve the forests, their functions and social benefits. This does not necessarily
mean to merely copy the regularities of nature but to think in economic terms as
well. The strategy of a natural oriented forestry is to combine economy and
nature. A well-planned forest policy could be applied to the high standards of
environmental policy. However without the natural protective effects of forests -
especially regarding avalanches, torrents and mud-rock flows - our Alpine
region could not be settled and inhabited.

THE AUSTRIAN FOREST ACT

The basic principles of Forest Act, which guarantees forestry concept, are the
following:

1. conservation of woodland and forest soil

2. forest protection against pests, fires and air pollution

3. general restrictions related to harvesting

4. the obligation of forest enterprises to employ trained personnel, and a required


standard of education

5. governmental support to improve all effects of forests

6. forest land use planning and a forest development plan


FOREST LAND IN AUSTRIA

Austria has a land area of 8 385 000 ha and a total population of about 7 988
000. The forest land is approximately 3 878 000 ha; this is 46.2 percent of the
land area or half a hectare per capita. Austria consists of nine federal provinces.
The forest cover per province depends on territorial shape, agriculture and types
of settlement and it extends from 32 to 60 percent.

For example, 41 percent of Upper Austria is presently covered by forests.


According to agricultural and forest statistics, Austria has approximately 214
000 forest holdings of which 140 000 are smaller than 5 ha, 57 000 forest
holdings are from 5 to 20 ha, 12 000 enterprises are in the category from 20 to
50 ha, 4 000 forest holdings are from 50 to 200 ha and about 1 000 enterprises
are larger than 200 ha.

The forest land (3 878 000 ha) is divided into commercial forests (3 044 000 ha),
protective forests in yield (286 000 ha) and protective forests out of yield (455
000 ha) 92 000 ha of the forest area are out of production. Productive forests,
that are commercial forests and protective forests in yield, represent 86 percent
of the total wooded area.

Since 1961 a forest inventory continually assesses the state and development of
forests. The Austrian Forest Inventory is allocated to the Federal Forest
Research Institute. The inventory covers the proportions regarding ownership
and types of forest management, size of the wooded grown area, growing stock,
increment, distribution of tree species and their composition, age classes and
growth classes, altitude, exposure and inclination of the forest area, damages,
silvicultural treatments, density of skidding tracks and forest roads, soil and site,
etc.

Forest roads are made not only for logging, but are also required for silviculture,
above all in protection forests. On the other hand, truck roads are also used for
access to agricultural land and Alpine pastures as well as for hunting, tourism
and other purposes (for example forest fire control).

FORESTRY TRAINING

Satisfactory forest management can only be accomplished with well-trained


foresters and that is why forest education and forest research have such a long
tradition in Austria. There are various levels of forestry education: The training
of forest wardens takes a year at a forestry school. The tasks of forest wardens
mainly comprise the guarding and supervision of forests. Foresters are trained at
two technical forestry high schools for five years and require a final examination
under federal supervision after a two-year practice. They are employed in
enterprises ranging from 500 to 1 800 ha on a supervisory level: enterprises over
1 800 ha are obliged to employ graduates from the university of agriculture.
After a three-year practice they have to pass an examination under federal
supervision.

Professional training of forest workers is also regularly conducted and is carried


out by agricultural schools as well as by the training centres for farmers or forest
workers such as Ort. Presently there is a steady decrease of professional forest
workers due to increasing mechanization and a preference for less strenuous
professions. Today forest enterprises are forced to accomplish forest operations
by employing farmers as well as logging contractors, more and more.

SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF FORESTS

The most significant objectives of the Austrian Forest Act dealing with a
sustainable management of forests are the following four principles: production,
protection, environment and recreation. The productive function guarantees the
supply of timber; the protective function should reduce dangers caused by
nature, harmful environmental influences and it should maintain soil
productivity; the environmental function of forests affects the environment,
especially the balance of climate and water regime as well as the purification
and renewal of air and water and the reduction of noise; recreational effects are a
very important aspect for the Austrian tourism industry.

FOREST GRANTS

Another article of the Austrian Forest Act deals with forest grants. The objective
is to conserve and improve all functions of forests concerning public interests. In
this case the federal government, as well as the provincial governments, issue
grants for the various treatments in forest stands. The grants are not for the
purpose of raising the income of forest owners, but primarily to improve forest
conditions.

Healthy forests, which are optimally adapted to climatic and soil conditions,
guarantee commercial and social benefits. Tree species have adapted to climatic
and soil conditions in the process of evolution during thousands of years. Our
task is to ensure that the natural selection in adaptation will not be disturbed by
man. The Forest Act is also based on that necessity and it regulates the
requirements for seeds and plants used for afforestation and reafforestation in
Austria.

Forest research has assessed the growth conditions in the Austrian forests and
the results show the territorial distribution of tree species and their associations
in specially defined growing areas. Wherever natural regeneration cannot
produce seedlings, restocking with plants of selected origins is used in re- and
afforestation.