Nationalpark Thayatal

2082 Hardegg

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National Park Thayatal
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Meadows, heaths and dry grassland

Nature | Habitat management

Multicolored diversity: Meadows, Heaths and Dry Grasslands in the National Park Thayatal

Green-winged Orchid
Rough pasture with flowering green-winged orchid
Green-winged Orchid


In the National Park, nature can develop free from human interference. Agricultural and forestry utilization are not possible. However there is one exception for meadows. This habitat can only be preserved through regular mowing in order to avoid it becoming overgrown. This is why these meadows were identified as management areas, which allowed for the necessary utilisation to ensure the conservation of biodiversity.

In the National Park Thayatal there are about 63 ha. of meadows and meadow fallows. Most of them can be found on narrow strips next to the Thaya or the Fugnitz. But the habitats have very different configurations. Depending on humidity and nutrient supply, one can distinguish between marsh areas, rich pastures, rough pastures and extensive dry grasslands. They harbor a large diversity of flora, grasshoppers, butterflies and other insects.

Recommendations on meadow management (German only) [PDF]

Traditional mowing
Woman raking hay
Traditional mowing
To ensure the conservation of the exceptional biodiversity, a maintenance plan was established for each meadow. Basically, it states that:
  • Fertilizing of meadows, liming and applying pesticides are prohibited.
  • Single mowing of rough pastures, two-time mowing of rich meadows.
  • Earliest mowing time 15 June, for single mowing, 1 July.
  • One fifth of the meadows remain after the first mowing, but can be cut with the second mowing. This fifth changes every year! It ensures that the meadow remains a source of feeding and a place of hiding even directly after mowing.

Maintenance conditions for meadows (German only) [PDF]

Dry grassland at the meander mountain
Dry grassland with red poppy at the meander mountain
Dry grassland at the meander mountain

Dry Grassland

The dry grasslands of the Thayatal are valuable habitats with numerous rare species of flora and fauna. On the steep slopes the ground is very thin, water drains away very quickly and can hardly be stored. Moreover, the steep slopes are exposed to the sun most of the day, resulting in high temperatures and drought. No wonder trees can no longer exist there. Despite the lack of nutrients and water the dry grasslands of the Thayatal are exceptionally rich in diversity and colour. Yellow chamomile, variegated iris, small pasque flower and burning bush produce impressive blooms despite the heat. Siberian melic grass and soft haired feather grass are a particular rarity. Their only occurrence in Austria is in the National Park Thayatal.

Variegated iris
Flowering variegated iris
Variegated iris
Many dry habitats in the Thayatal originated through former grazing of sheep or goats. These "secondary” dry grasslands tend to become overgrown. In order to preserve these rare habitats the areas are kept clear through cutting of shrubs and maintenance mowing. Primary dry grasslands on the contrary do not require any maintenance.

Management recommendation for dry Grasslands (German only) [PDF]