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President of the Forest Association of Carinthia, AUSTRIA

Woodland covers 60 percent of Carinthia (574 000 ha). Carinthian forests are mainly family owned, small structures:

The forests in Carinthia are therefore a main commercial factor. At the moment there are about 10 000 people employed in the forest and wood processing industries. Accordingly the owners and their families (about 23 000 farms and companies) get at least part of their income from the forest, and on farms the income from the forest is higher than from agriculture.

Carinthian forests have a stock of timber of about 146 million m3. The annual growing stock is about 4.2 million m3, from which there are just 2.8 million m3 harvested.

With the signing of the Helsinki Resolution for the protection of the forest in Europe at the Ministers conference, Austria agreed to set up a network of natural preservation areas. At the moment there are about 20 natural forest preservation areas with a total area of about 800 ha, as well as 110 genetic conservation areas with an area of about 2 500 ha, more than 40 natural protection areas and two national parks.

A recent study about closeness to nature of forests showed good results for Carinthia. Nearly three-quarters of the Carinthian woods are in the moderate changed respectively close-to-nature category, up to naturals, and just one-quarter are much changed up to artificial.

According to the composition of these tree species, silviculture activities are mainly determined by the natural station of the forests on one side and by forestall harvesting operations on the other. The portion of conifers is high because of the predominant mountainous areas and rises naturally with sea level.

On the plains and in the low hill areas, leaf trees dominate (8 percent); in the intermediate section there are mixed woods (16 percent). The portion of leaf trees in commercial forests has risen in recent years, forest management having encouraged tree species suited to the site.

Damage is caused by the following:

Forestall air pollution

In recent years most of the local emission sources have been supplied with filters or closed, such as the Obir and Magdalen plants. However, in the southern part of Carinthia we have to deal with sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions passing over the boarder from the Slovenian Coal Power Plant in Sonstanje. Negotiations are underway to rectify this.

Damage by deer

The Austrian forest inventory shows that about 50 percent of the seedling stands are nipped of in Carinthia: fir up to 85 percent and leaf trees up to 50 percent. Injuries caused by peeling are a further problem. About 4 million m3 are damaged. As well as damage caused by deer, disturbance of the habitat also occurs because of tourism, hunting, etc.

In the last 10 years climate change has resulted in an increased appearance of bark beetle. The reasons are manifold: lack of water, damage following wind throws, as well as decreasing forest hygienics. Landownership is also changing.

The Carinthian Forest Association

Discrepancies between mining and forestry caused the forest section to break away from the agricultural corporation, and therefore the Forest Association was founded in 1872. The percentage of land covered in Carinthia by woods was just 45 percent in 1900, which was 100 000 ha less than nowadays. The forest condition was bad because of excess cutting for metallurgical plants and hammer mills, woodland grazing, forest litter utilization and branch pruning.

The Forest Association consists of various business and owner groups, a wide structured spectrum. At the moment there are about 1 300 members. The managing committee ensures that all groups of interest among forest management are represented and well balanced. Consequently the precondition for good cooperation exists. Public relations and further professional education of the members, as well as participation in various legal bills, are the priority. A leading member of the Carinthian Forest Association is our Managing Director, Prof D.I. Sonnleitner. Ossiach can be called the Mecca of the forest, and cooperation with the forest training station in Ossiach is outstanding. Only professional staff members can make visionary activities possible.

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