Management of protective forest areas in Austria
Protective forests cost forest owners and the public sector money. However apart from the timber yield these areas also render services to society in the form of the protective effect.
Timber is subject to global markets where prices have stagnated for decades. Since 1980 the price of spruce wood has declined from then € 88 to presently € 80 per solid cubic metre. In the same period the consumer price index has more than doubled. For buying the same basket of goods as in 1980 the 2.8-fold amount of wood is needed today!
This means that the forestry enterprise must render the same services with less revenue. From a business point of view this calculation will no longer work. The services provided must therefore be considered from a national economic point of view and have to be co-funded from public funds.
There are several approaches to making the management and tending of protective forests more economically attractive.
For example subsidies are available in the context of rural development. Application and implementation are usually the competence of the provincial forest authority. Furthermore the Federal Government finances up to 60 percent of the measures taken in protective forests in so-called Forest Management Projects.
Other possibilities for improving the economic attractiveness are cost reduction through cooperatives and associations, tax benefits and an incentive system. Another option is to share the cost among beneficiaries by officially declaring a forest a protective forest.
The action programme "Forests protect us!" has defined milestones for making work in protective forests economically more attractive. These include inter alia:
- Present concrete action plans for the Rural Development Programme 2021-2027 and establish a support scheme with bundled instruments for regional planning.
- Present an expertise on new financing and transfer models for protective forests.
- Publish economic evaluation of the protective effect in Austria as an ecosystem service.