Of commercial forests and virgin forests

Austria’s forests are today a cultivated landscape- the product of centuries of human care and attention. In fact, virgin forests, or forests without any human intervention, are rare.

De­spite this, or maybe pre­cisely be­cause of it, forests have re­mained an el­e­ment of gen­uine na­ture; the most truly ‘nat­ural’ re­source.

Today forestry strives to man­age forests in line with the re­quire­ments of na­ture, tak­ing into ac­count nat­ural de­vel­op­ment cy­cles and our knowl­edge about ecosys­tems.

Vir­gin forests and cul­ti­vated forests

While the vir­gin for­est is left to go through the nat­ural cycle of growth and decay, the de­vel­op­ment of cul­ti­vated forests is con­trolled by human ac­tiv­ity, which im­proves the sta­bil­ity of the forest ecosystem and pro­motes the growth of de­sired tree species. The re­moval of old trees at specific times pro­vides light and space for nat­ural re­gen­er­a­tion, or alternatively for re­for­esta­tion.

The felling of ma­ture trees pre-empts the de­com­po­si­tion phase of the vir­gin for­est, thus ensuring the eco­nomic us­abil­ity of the wood and pre­vent­ing the area-wide ‘collapsing’ of forests.

Con­trol­ling the de­vel­op­ment of forests guar­an­tees that forests can per­form all their func­tions on a con­tin­u­ing basis – in par­tic­u­lar their pro­tec­tive func­tion.

In­sight into Aus­tria’s forests - the Aus­trian For­est In­ven­tory

The Fed­eral Re­search and Train­ing Cen­tre for Forests, Nat­ural Haz­ards and Land­scape (BFW) pro­vides data on Aus­tria’s forests by using the Aus­trian For­est In­ven­tory, a large-scale mon­i­tor­ing system that pro­vides­ in­for­ma­tion about tim­ber re­sources within a particular forest, as well as the sta­tus and changes in the for­est ecosys­tem.

The find­ings of the 2007 - 2009 For­est In­ven­tory serve as the basis of de­ci­sion-mak­ing for the for­est and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, and pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive data for a great num­ber of sci­en­tific pro­jects.

The Aus­trian For­est In­ven­tory has periodically col­lected a large volume of data on the sta­tus of, and the changes oc­cur­ring in, Aus­trian forests for the last fifty years. The data­base pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on tim­ber re­sources, the sta­bil­ity, struc­ture and dy­namic de­vel­op­ment of the for­est ecosys­tem, as well as informaiton about a forest’s sus­tained eco­nomic and eco­log­i­cal ca­pac­i­ty.

The data is col­lected and eval­u­ated by the For­est Re­search Cen­tre (BFW) on be­half of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry, En­vi­ron­ment and Water Man­age­ment (BML­FUW).

Should you be interested, you can view the findings of the Austrian Forest Inventory on the BFW home­page. The data is organised by re­gion (fed­eral, provin­cial, or even dis­trict for­est in­spec­tion bod­ies), by topic (for­est area, stock etc.) as well as by in­ter­na­tional cri­te­ria and in­di­ca­tors. The find­ings are pre­sented in table-form, while specific datasets can also be viewed as maps (Source BFW).

published at 03.07.2018, Kommunikation und Service (Abteilung Präs. 5)