Sustainable forestry adapted to climate change

New guidelines for the management of the Purkersdorf municipal forest

Following a recommendation from the Nature Park team, the Municipal Council of Purkersdorf has in September 2020 adopted new guidelines for the sustainable and climate-friendly management of the municipal forest.

Overall goals

The overall goal of the forest management is the use of the municipal forest (a) as a recreational forest for the population and (b) as a protected area for an intact biodiversity. Management is guided by these two requirements.

Guidelines

  • In order to make the forest more stable and shaded, the diversification of the stands – that has already started in recent years – will be continued. Successively, the current tree diversity will be adapted to the expected warmer climatic conditions.
  • As envisaged in the development concept of the nature park, 3-5 permanent old-growth forest cells of 1 hectare each will be established.
  • Utilization will be successively changed from age class utilization to individual utilization. Removals will occur primarily through thinning of regrowth. Annual removals will be limited to about 100 "Festmeter" per year (i.e. about 28 cords), which is about 1/3 of the amount possible according to the current forestry operation plans. Large-scale felling of old-growth timber will be avoided, unless it is necessary for other phytosanitary reasons. The implementation of all forestry operations shall be coordinated with the Purkersdorf Nature Park.
  • Small-scale timber harvesting should be carried out in co-operation with regional enterprises and - insofar as it is not used as roundwood – should be used as local firewood. The revenues thus generated will be used for the preservation of biodiversity as well as for the plantation and securing of trees in the forest as well as on municipal streets.
  • The above guidelines will be considered as management goals and objectives in the preparation of the upcoming 10-year operational plan.

Short-term financial losses.... 

The new management approach will result in lower overall timber harvests, while at the same time, eliminating area-wide old-growth logging will increase the cost of hauling. Compared to current management, the loss of revenue for the municipality will be about €10,000 per year.

...bring long-term benefits

The medium-term revenue losses, however, are offset by the long-term benefits of making the forest more resilient to climate change and shadier (and thus more attractive to the public). The average age of the trees becomes higher, and the stands thus provide better conditions for the preservation of biodiversity.

In addition, CO2 emissions of around 200 metric tons per year are saved, which corresponds to the combustion of around 75,000 Liters of heating oil or the car mileage of around 1.3 million kilometers.