With the exception of steep rock faces and the primeval Zinödl forest, the woodland areas in the Gesäuse have long been used for commercial purposes. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the average age of forest stands and a growing predominance of spruce. However, the loss of near-natural woodland structures (lack of sufficient deadwood, lack of pioneer communities and old growth stands) in the Styrian forests is not as severe as it is in comparable regions. Moreover near-natural stands still account for a total of 67.5 %, or roughly 5,500 hectares of the woodland area.
Site-specific forest communities
It is only the remaining 32.5% of non-natural woodland areas that need to be restructured. A forest area of 169 ha was restructured as part of the LIFE project (2005-2010), and an additional 1,505 ha of the entire National Park planning area (12,000 ha) will follow from 2010 onwards.
The forest management plan is to control the sustainable conversion of spruce-dominated forests, especially in the riparian woodland along the Enns and Johnsbach and the Gstatterboden. Ongoing data collection (site mapping, forest inventory, biotope mapping) and field surveys by experts provide the basis for defining the necessary measures and development goals both comprehensively and in detail. The general approach is also based on results of comparable surveys and investigations carried out in the Rothwald virgin forest in Lower Austria.
The forest management plan of the Gesäuse National Park was prepared by the Departments for Forest and Wildlife Management and Habitat and Nature Conservation of Nationalpark Gesäuse GmbH and the LIFE project coordinators.