Map of potential protective forests in Austria

Spatial geo-information has become the basis for a sustainable protective forest management. Publicly accessible, well-resolved information on protective forests increases planning security for forest owners as well as for authorities and beneficiaries of protection.

The map of potential protective forest areas also creates awareness of the importance of protective forests especially in a country as alpine as Austria.

Background information

The map is based on so-called range and disposition models. For the processes rockfall, avalanche and near-surface landslides the process zones (start zone, process path, runout zone) were modeled automatically in preliminary projects by the Federal Research and Training Center for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape - Department of Natural Hazards (BFW). These zones are dependent on different factors, again depending on the process. In the case of rockfall, for example, this is the limiting slope angle in conjunction with the geological source bedrock. In the case of avalanches, the slope angle is decisive. On the one hand these process zones are intersected with the forest area on the other hand with the existing infrastructure, i.e. houses, settlements, roads or railroad lines.  

The map is divided into three categories:

  • Forests with direct object-protective function
  • Forests with indirect object-protective and/or site-protective function
  • Forests without concrete protective function

Important note

The map of potential protective forest areas in Austria shows the protective function and does not provide any information about the forest condition or the actual protective effect. The designation is not legally binding and explicitly does not refer to § 23 of the Forest Act (determination procedure for protective forest). This is exclusively the responsibility of the forestry authority.

Evaluation of the data

The goal is to have a 1:10,000 scale representation. The revision process is expected to be completed in the 3rd quarter of 2021. An ongoing revision rhythm in coordination with the provincial forestry directorates and the Torrent and Avalanche Control ensures a dynamic adaptation of the spatial information.

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