Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page



Gerfried Walter

Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Vienna


The Austrian forest has a great variety of irreplaceable functions for human beings and the environment. Therefore, it is in the public interest to maintain all of these functions, which are: exploitability, protective, beneficial effects and recreational.

With the Austrian Forestry Act, the state aims to promote forestry in the public interest. The following objectives of forestry support covered in the Act are to: maintain and improve its protective and recreational functions, maintain its beneficial effects as well as the exploitability of the forest, and reinforce its competitiveness.

The following types of forestry support are taken into consideration: interest-rate subsidies for agricultural investment credits; aids, i.e. non-refundable allowances granted for the implementation of forestry projects; interest-rate subsidies for agricultural investment credits combined with aids.

Support for forestry measures aimed at improving the supra-economic functions of the forest can also be granted to large establishments and regional and local authorities (e.g. federal provinces, municipalities), whereas support for measures improving exploitability is only granted to owners of agricultural and forestry properties of less than 400 ha or to associations of such owners.

Cheaper European Reconstruction Program (ERP) credits constitute an exception, as they are granted to forestry establishments of more than 200 ha of forest area for afforestation, construction of forest roads and acquisition of machinery.

This report concerns the support granted mainly to small-scale forest owners in the form of aids and interest-rate subsidies.


2.1 Afforestation in high altitudes and preservation of protective forests

These support measures in high altitudes (which is the zone above 500 m and below the natural tree-line) do not depend on the size of the establishment; forests owned by regional and local authorities are also eligible for subsidization. This is due to the fact that such forests play an important protective role for settlements and regulate water balance in the mountains. Protective forests are also necessary in the eastern part of the country, where wind screens, for instance, prevent soil erosion.

Important sub-measures are:

- opening-up of project areas by construction of forest roads and foot-paths;

- soil preparation for afforestation, removal of vegetation (e.g. removal of shrubs, felling);

- protection of regeneration from snow pressure and rockfall;

- real afforestation;

- protection of plantations and cultivations;

- forest protection;

- logging with mobile cableways.

Public funds (federal aids) may cover up to 60 percent of project costs eligible for support, if the federal province grants an aid of at least half the amount of the federal aid. A.S. 45.8 million were provided by the Federal Republic in 1994.

2.2 Measures promoting the recreational function of forests

There is no upper limit to the size of establishments in this field. Forests owned by regional and local authorities are also subsidized, which is, of course, the most frequent situation. But tourist associations also may apply for support.

The following measures are subsidized:

- creation of lanes in forests, of meadows for picnicking or playing, afforestations etc. (so called "shaping" measures)

- creation of parking lots, hiking trails and cycle paths, of pilot tracks and sports tracks, playgrounds, picnic areas; construction of huts and sports facilities and sanitary facilities (so called "shaping" facilities)

Measures and facilities which are directly linked to commercial establishments and costs of maintenance and waste disposal and other current expenditure are not subsidized. Federal aids of up to 40 percent of project costs eligible for support may be granted if regional and local authorities grant an aid of at least the same amount. For 1994, A.S. 1.14 million were provided.

2.3 Structural improvements in forestry

These measures are aimed at improving the exploitability of forests by:

- increasing sustainable timber production in both quality and quantity;

- improving the structure of forests; and

- preserving genetic variety.

This support is directed at farmers owning small-scale forests of up to 400 ha or for owners of community forests. Regional and local authorities are not granted this aid. This may cover up to 45 percent of recognized project costs. Flat rates are set in order to rationalize the execution of small projects.

For the initial afforestation and reafforestation after disasters A.S. 5 500 to A.S. 20 000/ha are granted according to the tree species; for afforestation preparation measures A.S. 3 200/ha; for fertilizers: A.S. 1 000/ha for fertilizing single plants, A.S. 3 500/ha for surface fertilizing; for maintenance measures up to A.S. 3 500/ha and for fences protecting against grazing animals A.S. 20/m.

Fences protecting against game are only subsidized in the form of demonstration projects (up to A.S. 40/m); normally, hunters are liable to protect afforestation from damage by game under the Game Law.

The variety of tree species for afforestation measures must be adapted to the site of afforestation and be ecologically suited. A.S. 45.5 million were provided by the Federal Republic for 1994.

2.4 Forest roads and improved wood harvesting operations

This support measure is aimed at improving the effects of forests by opening up forests in an appropriate and landscape-adapted way permitting intensive and careful forest management in line with nature. As in the case of measures to improve forestry structures, this type of support is especially directed at farmers owning small-scale forests of up to 400 ha or owners of community forests. Moreover, persons having a logging right in another owner's forest may apply for this aid.

In general, the construction of forest roads is financed for up to 45 percent of total costs; often support is also granted in the form of credits combined with interest-rate subsidies (agricultural investment credits). The following criteria are particularly important for the construction of subsidized forest roads:

- careful construction methods (e.g. using excavators);

- joint opening up of larger forest areas through the association of several forest owners;

- avoiding excessive road density;

- slopes of more than 12 percent only in special cases;

- stabilizing and planting on slopes;

- integration of tourist paths; and

- rainwater drains which avoid negative effects.

In order to improve forest operations, credits at reduced rates of interest are granted for the purchase of necessary equipment. A.S. 25.4 million of aids were budgeted for 1994.

2.5 Measures of forest protection

These measures are meant to protect the forest from pests such as insects, mice, fungi or viruses through prevention and pest control. Within the framework of integrated forest protection, biological and biotechnical measures are favoured and use of chemical pesticides has to be reduced as far as possible.

Every forest owner, public or private, independent of the size of his forest, can be granted this aid. The amount of support depends on its use. For the improvement of protective forests and for afforestation in high altitudes, up to 60 percent of total costs are covered by federal funds; for projects in recreational forests up to 40 percent; for projects in commercial forests up to 45 percent.

During the last two years, Austria has been infested with bark beetle, which has led to high degrees of support for forest protection. In 1993, more than A.S. 22 million were spent on such measures. Therefore, the budget for support measures was raised from A.S. 6 million to A.S. 20 million in 1994.

2.6 Rehabilitation of forests

The objective of this aid is to improve and restore the vitality of forest vegetation and to stabilize the forest stand and site in order to limit the effects of the so-called "new forest damage". As in the case of forest protection measures, every forest owner is eligible for this type of support. The following measures are eligible for subsidies:

- soil improvement;

- fertilization;

- conversion of stands with respect to admixed tree species adapted to the site;

- cultivation;

- preservation of genetic variety.

For the use of fertilizers, plant or soil improvements, there must be proof that fertilization is necessary. A.S. 1 million was budgeted for such measures.

2.7 Measures of information, training and consultancy

These measures are meant to strengthen the efficiency and competency of the forestry sector and arouse public interest. Support is granted to:

- persons participating in specialized courses, seminars, excursions or study trips in the field of forestry;

- persons, associations or institutions involved in information, training and consultancy in the field of forestry with the aid of specialists.

The following sub-measures are also eligible for support:

- purchase or development of information and teaching material in the field of forestry;

- organization of training activities;

- personnel and travel expenses of forestry consultants, of interest groups, and of forestry specialists working for voluntarily established forest associations.

These aids can cover up to 45 percent of the costs of a measure. Approximately A.S. 22 million were budgeted by the Federal Republic for 1994.

2.8 Measures for the promotion of marketing

These measures are aimed at improving the competitiveness of forestry by creating appropriate technical facilities for joint timber sale. This support measure is especially directed at farmers who own small-scale forests of under 400 ha. Measures for storing, manipulation and processing of timber as well as the acquisition or establishment of facilities for joint timber sale or the processing of forest products are supported. At present, only loans at reduced rates of interest - but no aids - are granted for these measures.

2.9 Forest fire insurance

A subsidy of 25 percent of the insurance premium is granted to Austrian insurance companies insuring against forest fires. This subsidy is granted exclusively for reducing forest fire insurance premiums for forest owners taking an insurance policy. Regional and local authorities and their establishments do not receive premium subsidies. A.S. 3.7 million were provided by the Federal Republic in 1994.


The federal funds available for all of the above-mentioned measures amounted to A.S. 164 million in 1994.

The following are some general provisions on support as specified in the Forestry Act and which are granted only if:

- the projects conform to scientific knowledge in the field of forestry and are pursuant to the Forestry Act;

- the prerequisites for implementation are met and success is assured; and

- the measures could not or could not fully be carried out without federal support.

A contract of support agreeing to a subsidy has to be concluded between the Federal Republic and the applicant. This contract, however, is not legally binding.

The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry establishes guidelines on special questions and the implementation of support measures after consultation with the Minister of Finance.

The last version of these guidelines dates from 1988. An improved and amended version of the guidelines is being examined by the Ministry of Finance since completely new guidelines will need to be prepared because Austria has joined the European Union.

Previous PageTop Of PageTable Of ContentsNext Page