Flagship measure: Experiencing, using and maintaining protective forests

Protective forests are at the same time sensitive ecosystems, timber resources, protected areas for natural resources as well as zones for tourism, recreational use or hunting. These functions and utilization demands can come into conflict with the protective effect. Overloading by all these users jeopardizes the effect of the protective forests. Large-scale coordinated and sustainable use planning and management is therefore required.

The milestones and their implementation year (in parentheses) in this flagship measure:

A trans-regional dialogue forum of the Austrian leisure and tourism industry, forest owners and the association of municipalities for the production of utilization and steering models for leisure and tourism in protective forests is established (2021).

Especially in areas with a high need for protective forests it is important to develop and implement concepts for recreational use and tourism on a local and regional level. The concepts take into account natural resources, tourism associations, alpine associations, wildlife and hunting are based on the dialogue of all stakeholders and are steered by municipalities and regions. The challenges of tourism and recreational uses in protective forests are presented with facts and figures. Among other things existing success models will be defined. The identification and consideration of important stakeholders for joint success is of great importance. For this purpose a dialogue forum will be established. The goal is to create a joint final document on uniform rules and behavior in protective forests.

Austria-wide project for the establishment of game reserve zones in winter with a ban on entering in line with wildlife-ecological spatial planning is implemented (2022).

This spatial planning measure is implemented in a practice-oriented manner in cooperation with the Forestry & Hunting Dialogue, the hunting community, the provinces, tourism associations, veterinary medicine and other relevant stakeholders. Current scientific knowledge will be taken into account. Regional workshops on game reserve zones will be held. The balance of interests has to be coordinated. Furthermore, sustainable concepts will be developed in special protective forest areas. The success and influence of the game reserve zones will be assessed and evaluated until 2026.

The results of previous activities of the "Forestry & Hunting Dialogue" are used and implemented (2022).

The partial high impact of game, especially in Austrian protective forests, is a risk for the stability and resilience of mountain forests. In some areas maintenance and regeneration of protective forests are threatened or limited. A growing consensus exists among forestry personnel and the hunting community about the need for action. New ideas and strong responses are needed to implement sustainable concepts. For this reason close cooperation between the Forestry & Hunting Dialogue, the hunting community, the local forest authorities and the forest owners is of great importance. In this milestone common goals and measures are to be defined.