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Name: Marios Katsantonis

Historical background of natural forest reserves

in Austria
Impacts of historical forms of utilization
Only few of Austria's natural forest reserves are true remnants of virgin forests and
even those are relatively small and in some cases comprise but a few hectares. In the
past, Austrian forests were much more intensively exploited by man than they are
today. Wood was not only an important construction material, but also the main
source of energy. Entire valleys were radically clear-cut to cover the energy demand
of the iron and steel industry and of the salt works and the firewood demand of the
flourishing towns. As a result of permanent pasturing and litter use over hundreds of
years, the original forests were in many areas transformed into open, park-like
landscapes. Many forest ecosystems have not recovered from that intensive
agricultural exploitation.

For the above reasons, it is easily understandable that parts of virgin forests without
anthropogenic impacts have survived only in areas which are either absolutely
inaccessible or not well suited for agricultural use because of their difficult terrain and
soil conditions. This historical land use development explains why reserves were
formerly established mainly at the mountain and subalpine altitudinal levels, and
particularly in the Limestone Alps. It is one of our objectives today to correct this
unfavorable distribution.

As early as in the past century forest-tenants were responsible for the protection of the
remaining virgin forests, which were located mainly in the Northern and Southern
Limestone Alps. Motives such as the maintenance of nature for future generations
were underlined.

Approximately since 1965 new activities have been undertaken with a view to
reserves and scientific documentation. This stage of development is closely related
with the two forest scientists Hannes Mayer and Kurt Zukrigl. Even at this early stage
it was tried to build up network of natural forest reserves which eventually would
represent all important forest communities in proportion to their significance. A major
part of the existing reserves were established due to the efforts of these two scientists
and is documented in monographs (MAYER et al. 1987, ZUKRIGL et al. 1990).

Examples of outstanding initiatives included the designation of mostly small areas

(termed natural forest stands) through private-law contracts of the Tiroler Forstverein.
with private or communal forest-tenants and the establishment of natural forest
reserves in parts of the Vienna Forests located close to the city by the Forest Office of
On the initiative of Hannes Mayer and Kurt Zukringl, a contractual agreement was
settled in 1986 between the University of Agriculture and Forestry and the Austrian
Federal Forests (ÖBF) to make the reserves located on ÖBF properties available for
research. According to recent information the ÖBF.s share in the total area of natural
forest reserves was approximately 15%, which corresponds to its share in the total
forest area.

This brief summary of the historical development clearly indicates that private forest-
tenants have from the very beginning played a major role in the establishment of
natural forest reserves in Austria and that the task of establishing forest reserves was
not exclusively left to state forests. By the end of 1994, Austria had as many as 86
natural forest reserves with a total area of 3,224 ha (FRANK 1995).

Consequences of the Helsinki Resolution H2

Further to the agreements made at the Ministerial Conference for the Protection of
Forests in Europe, a working group was established in 1994 to develop a framework
concept for the establishment of an Austria-wide network of natural forest reserves.
From the very beginning, people representing the interests of forest-tenants, forest
experts working in administration, forest scientists, and forest practitioners were
included in the process which finally lead up to an Austrian Program for Natural
Forest Reserves..

The Federal Forest Research Centre (FBVA) has been entrusted with the technical
implementation of the Program. Administrative and financial tasks are the
responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

At present, systematic extension of the network has top priority. We are therefore
concentrating our capacities on checking the suitability of potential new areas and on
documenting the original conditions of new reserves as exactly as possible. For lack
of staff, scientific investigation of existing reserves must be limited to immediately
necessary periodic surveys of the field plots, some of which have existed for more
than 30 years.

We visited the forest of L.F.S. and we saw many different types of trees
and one of the them is the silver maple
The silver maple is a relatively fast-growing deciduous tree, commonly reaching a
height of 15–25 m (50–80 ft), exceptionally 35 m (115 ft). Its spread will generally be
11–15 m (35–50 ft) wide. A 10-year-old sapling will stand about 8 m (25 ft) tall. It is
often found along waterways and in wetlands, leading to the colloquial name "water
maple". It is a highly adaptable tree, although it has higher sunlight requirements than
other maples.

The leaves are palmate, 8–16 cm long and 6–12 cm broad, with deep angular notches
between the five lobes. The 5–12 cm long, slender stalks of the leaves mean that even
a light breeze can produce a striking effect as the silver undersides of the leaves are
exposed. The autumn color is less pronounced than in many maples, generally ending
up a pale yellow, although some specimens can produce a more brilliant yellow and
even orange and red colorations. Some specimens can simply drop their leaves while
still green as well.

The flowers are in small panicles, produced before the leaves in early spring, with the
seeds maturing in early summer. The seeds are winged, in pairs, small (5–10 mm
diameter), the wing about 3–5 cm long. Although the wings provide for some
transport by air, the seeds are heavy and are also transported by water.

On mature trunks, the bark is gray and shaggy. On branches and young trunks, the
bark is smooth and silvery gray.

In many parts of the eastern U.S., the large rounded buds of the silver maple are one
of the primary food sources for squirrels during the spring, after many acorns and nuts
have sprouted and the squirrels' food is scarce. The seeds are the largest of any native
maple and are also a food source for wildlife.

The silver maple has brittle wood, and is commonly damaged in storms. The roots are
shallow and fibrous and easily invade septic fields and old drain pipes and can also
crack sidewalks and foundations. It is a vigorous resprouter, and if not pruned, it will
often grow with multiple trunks. It is, nonetheless, widely used as an ornamental tree
because of its rapid growth and ease of propagation and transplanting. It is highly
tolerant of urban conditions, which is why it is frequently planted next to streets.
Although it naturally is found near water, it can grow on drier ground if planted there.

It is also commonly cultivated outside its native range, showing tolerance of a wide
range of climates, growing successfully as far north as central Norway and south to
Orlando, Florida. It can thrive in a Mediterranean climate, as at Jerusalem and Los
Angeles, if summer water is provided. It is also grown in temperate parts of the
Southern Hemisphere, as in Argentina, Uruguay, the [[Southern Region, Caracas-
Venezuela Brazil|southern states of Brazil]], as well as in a few lower temperature
locations within the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais (also in Brazil).

The silver maple is closely related to the red maple, and can hybridize with it, the
hybrid being known as the Freeman maple (Acer x freemanii). The Freeman maple is
a popular ornamental tree in parks and large gardens, combining the fast growth of
silver maple with the less brittle wood and less invasive roots of the red maple