For many, when we're feeling stressed or anxious, we escape to nature to unwind. But what if nature herself is under stress? Due to climate change, summers are getting hotter and drier. As a result, the groundwater level continues to drop, causing lakes and bogs to dry out. Young trees can no longer reach that most important elixir of life: water.
Signs of this so-called ‘drought stress’ include unnaturally bare patches in the forest, dry tree crowns, bark beetle infestation or even the complete disappearance of what should be a vibrant forest.
In Austria, the eastern part of the country is particularly affected by extreme drought, but other regions are also struggling with the consequences of climate change. Unfortunately, in every province, it’s possible to discover forests where large areas have been razed to the ground by pests, storms or fires. Moors are visibly losing their surface area due to drainage and many a lake resembles a shallow puddle during the summer months.
Nature as we know it is changing. But there is still hope to preserve our forests, the Earth’s green lungs. Many monocultures — plantations that serve primarily to supply us with wood — are being converted into diverse and species-rich mixed forests. Special natural areas are being placed under protection and future excessive development is being halted.
In this Collection, we present five day Tours that take you to endangered natural paradises throughout Austria. From vantage points, summits and panoramic trails you can see the changes for yourself and gain a unique perspective on the issues at hand. All the tours are easily accessible by public transport.
Nature gives us so much, it’s time to give something back to it. Every one of us — each and every individual — can contribute to the preservation of our natural spaces.
Climate change isn’t the only challenge we face. The extreme extraction of groundwater and the draining of wetlands for residential areas and farmland destroy important habitats. Let's work together to conserve water and preserve our natural environment! The challenge is great, but it also offers opportunities. The future could once again become more vibrant, species-rich and colourful.
Tree death does not stop at national borders: Austria's forests are also massively affected by the increasing drought. Within a year, in the Waldviertel alone, the bark beetle destroyed a forest area the size of half of Vienna. Afforestation with more robust mixed forest is inevitable. On the slopes of the Thaya Valley in Lower Austria, you can see dead spruce trees between the young deciduous trees at every turn.
Lake Neusiedl on the Hungarian border is known for its low water level and at the same time for its abundance of birds. But although dry summers are not uncommon in eastern Austria, climate change is also noticeable here: The sinking groundwater level is increasingly causing the varnishes in the Neusiedler See-Seewinkel National Park to dry out completely, which results in a worrying decline in the breeding pairs of the lapwing, black godwit and redshank Has.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
The Pürgschachen Moos and the bordering wetlands on the Enns create a unique complex of habitats. Thousands of years ago, the glaciers retreated, leaving behind a huge lake that increasingly silted up. A paradise for birds and insects was created, but it is being destroyed more and more by humans. Although the Pürgschachen Moos has been declared a European protected area, it is shrinking due to the targeted drainage, conversion into arable land and increasing drought.