Sustainable Forestry in Austria

The lush forests of Austria stand out as a symbol of the country’s great reverence for the outdoors.  There are at least 65 species of wood in Austria – the most common being spruce. Other prolific trees are pine, larch, fir, oak and red beech.Wood is the most important raw material for Austria. More than 80% of the wooded area is privately owned.

The forestry system in place emphasizes sustainability, ensuring that the harvesting rate is lower than the growth rate.  Harvesting concentrates on small areas while large-scale clear-cuts are rare. (The large harvesting projects require a permit.)  As a result,  the amount of wooded area in Austria is increasing constantly – by approximately 5100 hectares or  7,300  football fields each year. More new trees grow every year than can be used.

Over several decades, the annual rate at which wood is consumed is only about one-third its annual growth rate.According to ecologists, Austria’s forests have a greater diversity than most Scandinavian and North American forests. In 1979, Austria had 74% conifers and only 15% mixed woodlands. By the beginning of the new millennium, the ratio was 62% coniferous and 26% mixed species.

 

Source: Austrian Export,  Fall 2005,  Edited by  the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber