Facts and Figures

With mountain areas accounting for two thirds of its national territory, Austria is among the most mountainous countries of Europe. In the alpine landscape protective forests play a significant role as a safeguard for human living and settlement areas. Monitoring, facts and figures describing the condition of forests and their protective function are particularly important for useful and targeted measures.

According to the Forestry Act forests fulfil different functions, for example economic, protective, beneficial and recreational function. The public interest in the guiding functions is represented by the Forest Development Plan. 

The map of potential protective forests shows potential protective forest areas. The model-based map differentiates between the various protective forest categories according to the Forest Act. According to the evaluated assessment (as of July 2022), 15.7 percent of the forests in Austria have an forest with object-protective function and 26.1 percent are forest with object-protective and/or site-protective function. Forests with a protective function comprise 42 percent. Almost every fourth Austrian benefits from the protective forest and its services such as protective against avalanches, rockfall, erosion and floods.

In the future, the map will serve as a basis for prioritizing the planning of measures and for investment management.

Detailed information on the map of potential protective forests.

For purposeful and effective measures in Protective Forests it is important to know the areas, their condition and the stability of the stand. Monitoring and local inspections play a central role in this context. For half a century, the Austrian Forest Inventory has periodically collected a variety of data on the condition of and changes in the Austrian forest.


Facts and figures on protective forests in Austria

Indicator Figures Source

Map of potential protective forests

Forest with object-protective function

Forest with object-protective and/or site-protective function

Forest with protective function

Forest without primary protective function


15,7 percent, or 615.852 hectares

26,1 percent, or 1.028.057 hectares


42 percent, or 1.6 million hectares

58 percent, or 2.3 million hectares

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management, Directorate III/4
Riparian forests with protective effect against floods 95,000 hectares Forest Strategy 2020+ and Austrian floodplain inventory (“Auinventar Österreich”)
Stable protective forest area 56 percent Austrian Forest Inventory
Protective forests terminal phase or decay phase 34 percent Austrian Forest Inventory

Amount of areas in protective forests in need of rejuvenation due to browsing by game

76 percent

Austrian Forest Inventory

Area of protective forests declared by official notice (“Bannwald”)

12,719 hectares

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management
Tree species in protective forests 52 percent spruce
17 percent larch
13 percent beech
7 percent Arolla pine
6 percent other coniferous species
6 percent other broadleaved species
Austrian Forest Inventory

Societal demands and leisure activities


100,000 mountain bikes sold
700,000 persons actively going ski tours
1,200 recorded snow-shoe hiking days
55 million skiing days

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management