Cultural Landscapes in Austria
Location of Lesachtal in Austria
Lesach Valley - Lesachtal
Embedded between the Palaeozoic Carnian Alps in the south and the mesozoic Lienz Dolomites in the north, the Lesach Valley follows an important geological fault –the so called “periadriatic line”. It was formed by strong tectonic forces but also by glaciation and, in more recent times, by the erosive capacity of the river Gail. This river – the "bubbly" as it was called in ancient Illyric language – has cut a deep gorge into the valley floor. Several tributary streams have carved out their own deep ravines making the Lesach Valley a rather inaccessible region. In the past, the road had to follow these ravines into the mountains until there was an opportunity to cross the stream. The wild and dynamic river has always been an obstacle for road access, but at the same time it was used as transport corridor for floating timber downstream.
Neusiedler See – SeewinkelThe trans-frontier region of Neusiedler See - Seewinkel is part of the Small Hungarian Plain in Central Europe. It is dominated by the lake basin, plains areas and low mountains. In 1918 after the First World War, the new political division drew a border through the lake dividing its basin into an Austrian and a Hungarian part. Although its origin dates back to tectonics in middle tertiary, the actual shape of the landscape was formed in the late ice age, when tertiary sediments were partly covered by glacial clay, sand and loess. On its western edge the basin is bordered by a low mountain range of Palaeozoic bedrock covered by tertiary limestone. The region is characterised by hot and dry Pannonian climate with an annual precipitation of 700 – 800 mm and annual medium temperatures of more than 9 °C.
Viticulture terraces at Wachau (T. Wrbka)
Wachau is the name given to the Danube valley between the small towns Melk and Krems, together with the slopes and the adjoining Dunkelsteiner Wald (Dunkelsteiner Forest) and the southern Waldviertel, which are essential parts of the cultural landscape both visually and functionally. The course of the valley is determined to a large extent by the fault line system of the southern fringe of the Bohemian Massif. Not only the Danube, but also its tributaries in this region follow these geological "weak" points. Depending on the genesis of the valley landscape, extensive level stretches of the peneplains of the Bohemian Massif alternate with craggy steep slopes, loess-covered gentle surface configurations in the wider parts of the valley, and narrow valley floors.
Traditional crop farming landscape at Waldviertel (T. Wrbka)
The region situated in the Hercynian Upland at the frontiers to Bohemia in the northwest of Lower Austria is called “Waldviertel”. The Landscape is dominated by rolling plateaus with knolls, ridges and far-ranging troughs. Detached bedrocks and other rock formations are typical elements scattered in the landscape. Influences of the Western Baltic oceanic climate encountering with those of the East Pannonian climate are causing strong variations in temperature between day and night. Annual precipitation varies between 600 and 800 mm, and the mean annual temperatures are between 6 °C and 8 °C. The bedrock is dominated by crystalline and metamorphic rocks like granite and gneiss. Due to these two major factors, the dominating soil types are Ranker and different types of brown soil.
Hay meadows in Salzburg (Photo: Thomas Schauppenlehner)
Hohe Tauern – Summer farming in the Austrian Alps
The Hohe Tauern mountains are a range of the Central Alps in the Austrian federal provinces of Salzburg, Carinthia and Tyrol. Significant parts of the Hohe Tauern are protected as a national park, which covers 1.788 km˛ and therefore is the biggest national park in Austria, offering some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps, including the highest peak of Austria.
Wienerwald at the fringe of the Austrian Alps
The Wienerwald is a low mountain range to the west and south of Austria’s capital, Vienna. It represents the easternmost extension of the Alps and ranges in altitude between 200 and 900 m.
Located between the alpine, continental and pannonic-pontic zones, the Wienerwald is a hot spot for biodiversity, has a wide diversity of land uses including forestry and agriculture, and serves residential, commercial and recreational purposes. More than 60% of the total area of 1000 km2 of the Wienerwald region is covered with forests, making it one of the largest contiguous forested areas in Central Europe. As regards biodiversity, the farmed areas are of great relevance, in particular the meadows which provide the habitat for numerous rare and endangered insects and plants.