Nationalpark Thayatal

Nationalparkhaus
2082 Hardegg
Austria

T +43 (0) 2949 / 7005 - 0
F +43 (0) 2949 / 7005 - 50

office@np-thayatal.at
www.np-thayatal.at


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National Park Thayatal
 
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Forest renaturation


Nature | Habitat management
 

Back to the Origins




Wilderness in the National Park forest
Wilderness in the National Park forest - Tree with fungi
Wilderness in the National Park forest

Biodiversity in the National Park

The smooth bark of red beeches, gnarled oaks and white birches, tracks of wild boars and pines swaying in the breeze are only a few of the impressions one can gather in the National Park. The Thayatal is a forest national park. 90% of its surface is covered in forests. The western part, influenced by the cool continental climate, is dominated by beech forests. Besides red beech, sycamore maple and rare species, such as yew and witch elm, can also be found. However witch elm, although occurring again more frequently, is highly threatened by the elm bark beetle. In the herbal layer of the forest there are plants like the Turk's cap lily, spurge laurel, sorrel, coral-wort and the very special white helleborine.
 

Map of natural status in 2000
Map of natural status in 2000
Map of natural status in 2000
In the eastern part influenced by the dry pannonian climate, one can find oaks and hornbeam forests on the sunny, dry and warm southern slopes. Purple gromwell, bladdernut, wartibark euonymos, burning bush and isopyrum thalictroides are also typical representatives of dry deciduous forests. In old fallen oak trunks larvae of stag beetles develop and in the widespread oak forests of the Czech national park the steppe polecat goes hunting. At the Czech Sobes seven different oak varieties grow and their occurrence is unique both in the National Park and in the Czech Republic.
 

Map of natural status in 2005
Map of natural status in 2005
Map of natural status in 2005
Topography, sun irradiation and geology are factors of ecological diversity in the Thayatal. The so-called talus forests are a special feature. In particular lime trees, but also deep rooters such as sycamore and Norway maple love these boulder heaps and, together with hazelnut and gooseberry, they create a unique forest community.

In 1999 and 2000 a survey of the National Park forest was made on the Austrian side. The analysis of the data showed that about 4/5 of the forests had to a large extent natural populations. Approximately 1/5 of the forest is covered in non-indigenous tree species. In these populations the original hardwood mixed stands were converted into monotonous coniferous stands through intensive utilization. In the Czech part of the National Park the number of non-indigenous populations is slightly higher.
 

Fir thicket before the conversion
Fir thicket before the conversion
Fir thicket before the conversion
There are 16 different types of potential forest communities in the National Park.

In the forest a perfect recycling economy exists between fauna and flora. Man does often not realize what far-reaching and sometimes catastrophic consequences his actions can have for the sensitive ecology of the forest.


Potential natural forest vegetation - short version (German only) [PDF]
 

Manual conversion with chain saw
Manual conversion with chain saw
Manual conversion with chain saw

Forest Conversion



One of the objectives of the National Park Thayatal is the conversion of coniferous populations not adapted to the location. This will be done in harmony with nature. Branches, treetops and economically not exploitable wood are kept in the stand to increase the proportion of dead wood. No trees will be planted as the national park forest sufficiently regenerates itself.

Conifers are only of minor importance in the national park forest. Only white pines and juniper on rocky locations, as well as white firs and yews are autochthones. Conifers have been blended with hardwood trees and are not pure natural coniferous populations. Solely white fir would be able to spread over larger areas, or rather build comprehensive mixed forests together with red beeches.
 

Soon hardwood regeneration will begin
Regeneration of hardwood
Soon hardwood regeneration will begin
Large game populations, lack of forestry interest and the death of fir trees in the 80s and 90s of last century are the reasons why fir trees have been almost entirely eradicated from our forests. Even in the natural Thaya forests there are only a few old firs but no young trees. Therefore it was a small sensation when young fir trees were discovered two years ago in some conversion areas. The return of the fir is an impressive testimony to the forest and game management in recent years.
 

Non-indigenous fir populations infested with bark beetle
Non-indigenous fir populations infested with bark beetle
Non-indigenous fir populations infested with bark beetle
In old populations conversions are carried out in the form of single-tree-selection and also in the course of a clearance. Foreign tree species like robinia are girdled or, in the case of Douglas firs, removed.

Conifer populations infested with bark beetle are immediately silviculturally treated. In young populations, e.g. fir thickets, several interventions, such as strong thinning, are necessary in order to initiate a natural afforestation.


Monitoring of bark beetle (German only) [PDF]
 

Hauling timber using forest tractor and forwarder
Hauling timber using forest tractor and forwarder
Hauling timber using forest tractor and forwarder

Gentle Handling

In the National Park conversions are carried out as gently as possible yet also cost effectively. A large part of the lumbering is traditionally done with chain saws. In fir thickets thinning harvesters are used to encourage hardwood rejuvenation. Forwarding is carried out with special forest tractors and cranes. Sometimes horses are also used for hauling timber. This would be the preferred method for hauling timber in the National Park.
 

Horse forwarding
National Park staff hauling timber with two horses
Horse forwarding
In the Czech Republic they work mostly traditionally with their own staff and horses. On large surfaces, renaturation measures have already been completed and the forest is left to its own devices.

Renaturation activities should be completed in 2014 in the Thayatal National Park. Every year conversion measures are carried out on approx. 25 ha. Upon a successful renaturation of the national park forest the road to wilderness will be open.