Experts expect climate change to further aggravate these negative factors, primarily caused by bark beetles and storms. The status of forests is in particular monitored by way of surveys carried out by the Austrian Forest Research Centre (BFW). Problems emerge primarily as a result of damage caused by storms and in areas where several weakening factors come together.
Damage is particularly severe in protective forests. Wind breakage, bark beetles, ageing due to low utilisation and lack of regeneration as a result of browsing by game and forest grazing as well as air pollution frequently impede the efforts to achieve stable forest stands in these sensitive forest areas.
Damage caused by bark beetles
There has been an increase in damage caused by bark beetles especially along the Northern and Southern Limestone Alps. The implications of the storm damage of 2007 and 2008 were particularly noticeable in these mostly not-readily accessible damage areas in Styria, Carinthia and Salzburg.
Forest owners are constantly called upon to have a watchful eye on bark beetle infestation and to take the required control measures as early as possible. The Forestry Services of the Federal Provinces and the consultants of the Chambers of Agriculture offer targeted advice concentrating on key areas. For precautions, such as the use of trap-trees and the chopping of logging residues, funding measures are available. The Austrian Research Centre for Forests provides information on the internet at http://borkenkaefer.at.
In addition to the problems caused by bark beetle reproduction, the BFW’s experts for forest protection report about partly indeterminate damage of larch and sycamore trees and about a further spreading of the shoot dieback observed in ashes.
Damage caused by game - Game Impact Monitoring (WEM)
Since 2004 the WEM, which is technically supported by the BMLRT (then Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism), has provided Austria-wide, statistically verified data on the impact of game on forest regeneration. This monitoring system was developed by the Federal Forest Research Centre in close consultation with the Provincial Forest Services and on the basis of a consensus with the hunting community.
Game Impact Monitoring is based on a modern, scientifically approved method that is evaluated on an ongoing basis. Upon this year‘s new uptake period, respective adaptations are made to further improve validity. When evaluating results, the main emphasis is not on absolute values, but on sketching development tendencies at district level.