On the 28th of October 2019 Hohe Tauern National Park celebrated the awarding of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) 1b Wilderness Status for the ‘Sulzbachtäler’ Wilderness. This full day event took place in Mittersill at the Hohe Tauern National Park headquarters. With their newly gained certificate, Hohe Tauern is now one of two IUCN 1b Wilderness Areas in Austria after the Wilderness Area in Dürrenstein National Park.
Hohe Tauern Wilderness is now not only a member of the European Wilderness Network since 2015, but a best practice example for other members of the European Wilderness Network to apply for the IUCN 1b certification. The European Wilderness Society will support the European Wilderness Network Wilderness to achieve IUCN 1b status with detailed documentation from the European Quality Standard audits.
Celebrating the day
Welcomed by Sonja Bettel a journalist and moderator from the Austrian Broadcaster (ORF) the celebration had a great start. Dr. Bernhard Kohler, from the World Wild Fund For Nature Austria, continued with a fantastic speech on Wilderness and its history. This was followed by supervisor and outdoor trainer Johannes Schindlegger; who told us stories from his own experiences with children in Wilderness. Following that Mister Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Urban, the National Park Director, held an exciting speech about Hohe Tauern’s journey from its beginnings until achieving Wilderness Status.
A short film and impressions of the ‘Sulzbachtäler’ by Michael Wipfler and Lukas Pousset were great opportunities to get an idea of the Wilderness Area. Next, Dipl.-Paed. Maria Hutter, the regional minister, and DI Maria Patek, the federal minister, each held a terrific speech on Wilderness and the IUCN certificate for the National Park. Finally, the category 1b certificate was given to the National Park from Andrej Sovnic, the Vice-Chair of IUCN Europe. The lovely music from the TauernSax group was supporting everything throughout the whole event. All in all a successful day for the National Park.
The ‘Sulzbachtäler’ area symbolises the Hohe Tauern Wilderness. Characterised by a high alpine mountain landscape and vast wastelands of rocks and scree. Further it includes unique conifer and mixed forests alongside distinctive plants. Shrubs like bilberry, cowberry and alpine rose invade the grasslands in the lowest parts of the alpine zone. The alpine meadows above the tree-line consists of mosses, lichens and algae but are comparatively patchy.
Hohen Tauern Wilderness is home for many characteristic animals like chamois, ibex, bearded and griffon vultures and golden eagle. Furthermore, animals and plants are colonising new habitats in the Wilderness area as glaciers are continuously retreating.