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 Forest Development Plan classifies about 1.25 million hectares (ha) of forest as being of supreme public interest in the key function "Protective Function". This means that about 30 percent of the altogether 4 million hectares of forest area in Austria are Protective Forests. Almost one in four Austrians benefits from protective forests and the services they provide, like the protection against avalanches, rockfall, erosion and floods.

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

Note: Exact figures will be published after evaluation of the data.

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.

The most important Protective Forest-data in Austria are derived from the Protective-Forest-Information Map, forest development plan, Austrian Forest Inventory, Surveys of the federal states as well as from scientific studies.

Facts and figures on protective forests in Austria

Indicator Figures Source

Forest Development Plan 

Austrian forest area with the key function - protective function
30 percent, or 1.25 million hectares Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, Directorate III/3
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”)

11,991 hectares

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism

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

Research budget Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW)

15.5 million euros (2018)

BFW annual financial statement

Participants in courses at the forestry training centres

19,545 in 2018

Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism

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, Regions and Tourism


published at 21.10.2021, Wildbach- und Lawinenverbauung und Schutzwaldpolitik (Abteilung III/4)