Nature | Habitat management
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Wilderness in the National Park forest
Biodiversity in the National ParkThe 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 2005
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
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
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
Non-indigenous fir populations infested with bark beetle
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
Gentle HandlingIn 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.
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.