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Protected areas in Austria


National parks play a very important role in the Austrian environmental policy. The meaning and the activity of these parks go beyond national borders and they are recognized at international level. The development of the national park system in Austria started in 1971 when the three Federal Provinces of Carinthia, Salzburg and the Tyrol decided to establish the Hohe Tauern National Park according to the "Heiligenblut Agreement". So far six of the ecologically most valuable regions of Austria have been declared national parks. They cover 2,350 km² or about 3% of the national territory. In line with the IUCN definition, Austrian national parks are "protected areas managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation".

A Nature Park is a protected landscape that was created through the inter-action of people and nature. Very often these landscapes took many centuries to form into their current shape, and they thus need to be conserved and maintained by the people who live here. In Nature Parks this cultural landscape of special aesthetic appeal is opened up for the visitors through special arrangements and accessed as an area for recreation. The Nature Parks of Austria represent a diversity of characteristic landscapes, distinguished through their inviolacy, their natural and cultural highlights and a broad spread of possibilities to enjoy, experience and comprehend nature. Today there are 47 Nature Parks in Austria, covering an area altogether of 500.000 ha. The geographical main emphasis presently lies in Eastern Austria (provinces of Lower Austria, Styria and Burgenland), though the number of areas seeking to become a Nature Park is constantly rising.

Unesco Biosphere Reserves in Austria:

  • Gossenköllesee (1977), Tyrol
  • Gurgler Kamm (1977), Tyrol
  • Lobau (1977), Vienna
  • Neusiedler See (1977), Burgenland
  • Grosses Walsertal (2000), Voralberg
  • Wienerwald (2005), Vienna and Lower Austria

Sources:  Nationalparks in Österreich, Österreichische Naturparke, UNESCO-Biosphärenreservate in Österreich

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