Flagship measure: Recognizing and communicating protective forests

Many Austrians are not aware of the protective function of forests. The social and economic value of the protective function of forests is mostly appreciated only at the very local level; the political importance at supra-regional level is rather low. Intensive information campaigns and awareness-raising are required in order to make people aware of the importance of protective forests for the safety of settlement and economic areas, tourism and agriculture.

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

An Austrian Protective Forest Award is presented for the first time (2021)

The framework conditions and objectives for the Protective Forest Award which recognises special efforts will be defined. Among other things, the synergies and experiences from the existing BMLRT initiative of the "State Award for Exemplary Forest Management" are to be used. The start for the first call for entries will be in spring 2021. The presentation is expected to take place in 2021. 

Quality-assured teaching materials on the topic of protective forests and natural hazards will be made available to schools (2021)

In order to inform pupils about the topics of protective forests and natural Hazards, targeted teaching materials in the general school system are of great importance. Awareness-raising and sensitisation on the subject at hand are particularly necessary in order to raise awareness of the importance of protective forests for the safety of settlements and economic areas, tourism as well as agriculture and forestry. The importance of the protective forest is explained to responsible actors and concepts for teaching materials are jointly developed. Role models such as forest education and Berti the beaver are to be used. Funding is to be secured as early as 2020 in order to produce the commissioned teaching materials in 2021 and make them available to the schools.

Media campaign is implemented (2020)

As a first step in this milestone social media channels are to be used to network the topics of protective forests and natural hazards and to communicate them to a broad target group. The existing channel "unserWald" (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) will be given a voice in order to quickly publish knowledge and information. Furthermore, a nationwide and regional implementation of a media campaign on the protective effect of forests and the impacts of climate change is aimed at. Appropriate concepts for image and text material will be put together in close coordination with the relevant actors. The goal is simple and comprehensible messages.

The public dialogue on protective forests is institutionalised in the form of an annual event per federal provinces (2021)

The aim is to continue the social discourse on protective forests within the framework of public federal and provincial protection forest platforms and the Austrian Forest Dialogue. Publicly effective formats such as protective forest sponsorships and protective forest sponsoring models will be further developed. In addition, the establishment of an Austrian Protective Forest Award in coordination with existing initiatives is important. All stakeholders will be involved in order to be able to use synergies. The protective forest dialogue will be conducted regionally.

Voluntary environmental year in the protective forest is offered (2023)

A voluntary environmental year is planned in order to strengthen and communicate awareness of the protective forest and to achieve an improvement of the protection forest areas. A working group will be set up with the involvement of all stakeholders. This group will draw up a concept to define all contents and objectives. By actively promoting the voluntary environmental year the service to society is to be strengthened.

published at 07.06.2021, Wildbach- und Lawinenverbauung und Schutzwaldpolitik (Abteilung III/4)