The case study region Biosphere Reserve (BR) “Wienerwald” (1.056 km2) is located in the federal states of Lower Austria and Vienna in north-east Austria. The Wienerwald BR contains seven municipal districts of Vienna as well as 51 municipalities in lower Austria: whereas in three municipalities in Lower Austria live more than 20.000 inhabitants, 60% of the municipalities have less than 5.000 inhabitants.
The region is dominated by woodlands, around fifty percent (50,4 %) of the area is dominated by broad-leaved forest, eleven percent (11 %) by mixed forest and nearly two percent (1,8 %) by coniferous forest. With an aggregated value of around fifteen percent (15,1 %) open land complexes, represented by pastures (4,3 %), complex cultivation patterns (4,5 %) and land principally occupied by agriculture, with significant areas of natural vegetation (6,3 %), account for especially characterising for the landscape in the region. In addition arable land (6,5 %) and vineyards (1,7 %) are of particular importance for the Wienerwald area.
Short facts about the region
Characteristics of the region
In total 19,098 ha of the Wienerwald BR are used agriculturally. More specifically on 8,626 ha crops are cultivated, 1,138 ha are vineyards, 44 ha are permanent grassland and 9,207 ha are temporary grassland. The mean field size is 0.8 ha and the average farm size is 15.8 ha. However, the area managed by one farm in the case study varies from 0.03 ha to 157 ha and field size varies from 0.005 ha to 40 ha. Mainly bread grain (2367 ha or 12 %), field forage (1974 ha or 10 %), corn (1805 ha 10 %), feed grain (1099 ha or 6 %) and oleaginous fruits (633 ha or 3 %) are cultivated on agricultural land. 91 % of temporary grassland are managed intensively and 9 % extensively. 373 ha are fallow land.
Significant resources of the region
Compared to other central European regions the Wienerwald BR includes one of the largest complexes of deciduous forests. Most of the forests are large-scale landed property which are above-average old as well as rich in dead wood and other elements important for certain species, compared to forests in similar locations. In the open land areas of the BR 17 different types of meadows and more than 2000 plant species can be found; about 150 bird species are breeding in the Wienerwald.
In addition to the climatic, geological and biogeographical border location, special habitats as well as close interaction between areas of forest and valuable meadows increase the ecological and nature conservation value of the Wienerwald BR. The Wienerwald BR is of superregional importance for the Alps-Carpathians-corridor as a stepping stone in the biotope network. Due to the vicinity of the city of Vienna and the river Danube, the preservation of permeability is essential. In the Wienerwald BR nature conservation, economic and social development as well as preservation of cultural values are carried out. Furthermore, the area of the Wienerwald BR contains 15 nature protection areas and four natural parks. 36 core areas which contain particularly valuable forests can be found all over the area of the BR. These core zones are exclusively wooded land and equate to 8% of the forest area in the BR; more than 20 different types of forest h
Beside the agricultural and forestry-used area, the region is influenced by high pressure of settlement, infrastructure and recreation. Because of the settlement areas, the proximity to Vienna and the diversified landscape, the BR is strongly used by recreationists (Reimoser et al., 2008, 2012). The landscape composition offers possibilities for various recreational activities and sports mainly on weekends and official holidays. On workday daily sports and recreational activities and day trips by locals and some tourists play also an important role (Reimoser et al., 2008, 2012). Because of the diversification of recreational activities and the transition to flexible working hours, a population increase in the city of Vienna and in many Wienerwald – communities at the border of the BR has been recorded in the last decades. Consequently, the recreational pressure has grown significantly.
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