Hohe Tauern Wilderness receives IUCN 1b Wilderness status

An important part of the Hohe Tauern Wilderness, Partner of the European Wilderness Network, passed the evaluation of the IUCN. This will mean that the ‘Sulzbachtäler’ area will receive the official recognition as IUCN 1b Wilderness. This is a great achievement and the European Wilderness Society congratulates the management of National Park Hohe Tauern. It is also a reward that reflects all the efforts that the management and all employees invest to ensure the protection and stewardship of Wilderness in the Austrian Alps.

A high alpine Wilderness

Hohe Tauern Wilderness has been part of the European Wilderness Network since 2015. The Wilderness is characterised by impressive high alpine mountain landscapes, including unique mixed and conifer forests, as well as a desolate wasteland of rock and scree. As the glaciers continuously retreat, animals and plants are colonising this new habitat at a stable pace. Just above the tree-line, plant cover in the alpine meadows is lush, but extremely patchy. It consists of a handful of vascular plant species, mosses, lichens and algae. In the lowest part of the alpine zone, shrubs like alpine rose, bilberry and cowberry invade the grasslands. Characteristic animals that are home in Hohe Tauern Wilderness include chamois, ibex, bearded and griffon vultures, and golden eagle.

International recognition

The certification of the Hohe Tauern Wilderness used the European Wilderness Quality Standard. This has provided a solid foundation for the management to apply for the IUCN 1b Wilderness category. The detailed observations from the Wilderness Auditors have helped the audit process of the IUCN evaluators during their research and fieldwork.

With the IUCN 1b status, Hohe Tauern Wilderness receives another label that displays it international recognition of importance. It can also become a leading example for other Partners of the European Wilderness Network that wish to obtain such a status in the future. Later this year, in October, the National Park Hohe Tauern will organise a festivity to celebrate the achievement.

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