The 13,034 ha Kalkalpen Wilderness is embedded in the Kalkalpen National Park, Austria. Kalkalpen National Park is a large protected area, located in the north-eastern Limestone Alps in Upper Austria. The park consists of the two mountain ranges Sengsengebirge and Reichraminger Hintergebirge. Kalkalpen Wilderness features the largest forest region in central Europe and the largest karst in Austria. It is a colourful mosaic consisting of pristine forests, hidden gorges and untouched mountain streams.
The long-term vision is to protect dynamic Wilderness. Successful implementation of this vision illustrates current achievements, when the midterm goals – to create a protected area – were established and had been partially achieved. Practical outcomes of this vision will be that 75% of the national park area will reach the Wilderness standard. Within the Kalkalpen Wilderness, there is a smaller designated WILDForest with a unique beech forest character.
European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit System
The 13,034 ha Kalkalpen Wilderness was audited in 2015 and meets the Platinum Wilderness Quality Standard. A European Wilderness Quality Standard Renewal-Audit is scheduled for 2025.
- Protected area: Nationalpark Kalkalpen
- Wilderness: Kalkalpen Wilderness
- Wilderness Quality Standard: Platinum
- Country: Austria
- Size of the protected area: 20,820 ha
- Size of the Wilderness: 13,034 ha
- European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit : 2015
- Wilderness Uniqueness: The large contiguous area of old growth mixed and conifer forest in central Europe with presence of large carnivores
- Number of visitors per year to the protected area: approx. 210,000
- Number of visitors per year to the Wilderness: approx. 40,000
Kalkalpen Wilderness is a large contiguous piece of wild land and it includes several important habitats types, such as conifers, mixed and broadleaf forest, alpine pastures and rocks. The flora of Kalkalpen Wilderness and the Kalkalpen National Park represents 927 vascular plant species, which have been documented through biotope mapping. This represents about one third of all plant species that exist in Austria.
Priority species include also the sporadically presence of wolf, the protected alpine long-horned Rosalia beetle, and the bear moth. In 1999, the Eurasian lynx was reintroduced in Kalkalpen National Park. This was an important step for the return of the Eurasian lynx to the Alps.
Wilderness Tourism Experience
The Kalkalpen Wilderness is an important place from a tourism and recreational perspective. Visitors and other recreational activities have a long tradition in Kalkalpen National Park and the management has made great strides to minimize the negative impact of tourism, in particular in the Kalkalpen Wilderness. Canoeing is not possible because of the steepness and ruggedness of relevant river sections. Mountain biking is directed to the Kalkalpen Wilderness transition zone with abandoned forest roads. Paragliding is forbidden by the regulations of the Kalkalpen National Park, which do not allow for any aerial traffic for sports. Pitching tents is allowed in designated spots throughout the Kalkalpen National Park.