Wienerwald

The Wienerwald Biosphere Reserve covers an undulating landscape in the area between the Northern Alps and the Pannonic Basin, to the west of the city of Vienna. On the east slopes of the Wienerwald there is a geological rupture zone, with hot springs and impressive marine terraces of a former sea. The limestone part of the Wienerwald is dominated by steep and rugged limestone and dolomite rock formations and sharply cut gullies.

Designation Date: 2005
Surface Area: 105.000 ha
Administrative Division:   Federal states: Vienna and Lower Austria

Human Activities

The Biosphere Reserve Wienerwald is close to the agglomeration of Vienna, Austria's most important economic area.

In Lower Austria, 51 communities with about 282,000 inhabitants are either completely or partly within the Biosphere Reserve. Parts of seven municipal districts of Vienna with a population of about 477,000 are part of the Biosphere Reserve.

Therefore more than 750,000 people live in the region that is all set to become a model region for sustainability. In addition to scientific research projects about biodiversity (ecological sustainability) other projects facilitated by the biosphere reserve management take ecological, economical and social sustainability into account.

For example the “Wienerwald Pasture Cattle Project” integrates conservation of culture landscape, livestock friendly breeding, short transport (ecological sustainability), cooperation between farmers, a butcher, restaurants (social sustainability) and a high quality - high price product (economic sustainability).

Ecological Characteristics

The Wienerwald is an important biodiversity hot spot throughout Europe.

Diverse types of habitats have developed here due to numerous factors such as the meeting of different biogeographical and climatic regions, different geological conditions, considerable altitude difference and, -last but not least- the human influence.

The habitats in the open-land cultivated area in the Wienerwald are of outstanding international importance. Vast meadows and pastures which are the result of centuries of cultivation dominate large parts of the region. Dry grasslands are particularly characteristic in this region.

There are also a few unimproved grasslands on moist and wet sites, with moor grass meadows and calcareous fens. Ancient vineyards and fruit orchards, areas dominated by agriculture, rich sources of water and numerous structural elements enrich the landscape diversity of the Wienerwald. Large areas of the Wienerwald are contiguously wood covered (more than 60%).

The dominant tree species is beech (Fagus sylvatica). However, there is more to the Wienerwald then beech forests. It is home to 25 different types of forest vegetation. Austria's largest forests of downy oak (Quercus pubescens) and sub-Mediterranean pine forests with the endemic Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) at the easternmost edge of the region are of European significance.

Protection Classifications

At the national level

Core zones are designated as nature protected areas by federal law

Buffer zones and the whole area in lower Austria are designated as landscape protected area by federal law


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                                                                                    Last update: January 2014

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