Protecting our environment
The Karwendel was named Austrian nature park of the year 2020. Not only the natural but also the cultural environment which has characterized the landscape for centuries is protected. Together they form a beautiful symbiosis worth preserving.
The Karwendel, Austria’s largest nature park, begins on the western shore of Lake Achensee. Bizarre rock formations meet lush green alpine meadows, rushing torrents flow through small valleys, providing a natural habitat for various animals and plants. To protect this unique natural landscape, the forerunner of today’s nature park was founded in 1928 and has existed within its current boundaries since 1989. Rather than closing the area off for visitors, the aim is to promote the coexistence of humans and nature.
The chief keeper of this fragile coexistence is Hermann Sonntag, managing director of the nature park. Every year, he and his team undertake numerous projects which serve the protection and revitalization of nature, and in addition, provide a memorable experience to visitors. One of these projects is the restoration of the moors in the area of the Achenwald and Bächental. These biotopes in the Karwendel are around 10,000 to 15,000 years old. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, they were drained to make the area usable for forestry and agriculture. An extensive renaturation programme for the 14 fens and bogs has been underway since 2004. With the help of the Austrian Federal Forests, larch poles were used to build dams to keep the water in the soil. In some parts, the success is visible, says Hermann Sonntag: “We see that in the last ten years peat mosses have regrown.”
Along with the moorlands, rare plants such as the sundew are also returning. Sundew grows in barren, nutrient-poor locations. The carnivorous plants feed on insects. In addition, the peat mosses can store 30 times their dry mass of water and are thus important “retention basins” during heavy rainfall.