Nationalpark Hohe Tauern

Data & facts
about the largest national park in the Alps

The Hohe Tauern National Park in figures

The 1,856 square kilometre Hohe Tauern National Park is split into a 1,198 square kilometre core zone and a 638 square kilometre outer zone and stretches over three provinces.


The Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest national park in the Alps and one of the largest protected areas in Central Europe.

Area: 1,856 sq. km

Breakdown

 

Core zone 

Outer zone 

Total

Carinthia

327

113

440

Salzburg

538

267

805

Tyrol

347

264

611

Total

1,198 sq. km

638 sq. km

1,856 sq. km

 

Outer zone  – the targeted subsidisation of alpine farming measures is used to help preserve the characteristic landscape. 

Core zone – strict protection. It is not permitted to use 75 % of the area for economic purposes.

 


The natural and cultivated Alpine landscape

The preservation of all significant Alpine ecosystems across large areas of the Hohe Tauern National Park has been unimpaired. More than one third of all plant species recorded in Austria can be found in the national park. For mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, this figure is at around 50%. Even those animals that were nearly extinct in almost all of Europe at the beginning of the 19th century are now provided a safe habitat in the Hohe Tauern National Park.

This impressive biodiversity is a result of the different prevailing climatic, geological, geomorphological and hydrological conditions in the high mountains and the differing adaptation strategies of the plants and animals.

If you walk from the valleys to the highest peaks in the Hohe Tauern National Park, crossing the altitudinal belts will be akin to walking through all the climatic zones from Central Europe to the Arctic.

The Tauern Window – a unique tectonic window in terms of shape and size – provides insight into the deepest tectonic layer of the Alps and is thus key for understanding the geological structure of the Alps. Rocks of differing ages, different origins and different chemical composition harbour a genuine hoard of up to 200 different minerals.

General information


Key data

International recognition (IUCN category II):

  • 2001 (Carinthia)
  • 2006 (Salzburg, Tyrol)
  • East to West reach: 100 km 
  • North to South reach: 40 km 
  • Metres above sea level: 1,000 to 3,798 m (Grossglockner)
  • More than 300 mountain peaks at over 3,000 m above sea level 
  • 342 glaciers with a total area of 170 sq. km 
  • 279 streams/rivers, including 57 glacial streams 
  • 26 significant waterfalls (numerous small waterfalls) 
  • 551 mountain lakes between 35 sq. m and 27 ha 
  • 35% of the national park's area is pasture land or cultivated landscape 
  • Approx. 15,000 to 20,000 animal species
  • 3,500 plant species incl. lichens and algae
  • 4,000 types of fungi

National park pioneers

The member of Salzburg Provincial Parliament August Prinzinger and the Carinthian forest industrialist Albert Wirth are closely connected with the history of the Hohe Tauern National Park. Both men lived for the idea of a national park and wanted to preserve the mountainous landscape between the Grossglockner and Grossvenediger for generations to come. In 1913, Prinzinger convinced the association for national parks 'Verein Naturschutzpark' to purchase an estimated 1,100 hectares of land in the Amertal (Amer valley) and Stubachtal (Stubach valley) for the purpose of creating a protected area. Wirth donated around 4072 hectares of land in the Grossglockner region in 1918 to the Austrian Alpine Club. These parcels of land became the nucleus of the area that would be protected later.


The founding years

The era of reconstruction and economic growth following the Second World War saw an increase in attractiveness. Both the tourism and energy industries had great plans for the Hohe Tauern region. Power stations, roads and cable cars were the initial thoughts. However, resistance to these projects grew at the same time. The consequence: In 1971, the Governors of Salzburg, Carinthia and Tyrol signed an agreement in Heiligenblut: They wanted to establish a national park together in the Hohe Tauern region. An important step on a long path.


Three provinces – one goal

Until the first and largest national park in Austria was actually created, the three provinces of Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol had to establish the corresponding legal framework. Prior to this, it was necessary to convince and win over the sceptics and opponents of the protected area. It was a lengthy, but ultimately successful joint discussion process. The moment finally arrived in Carinthia in 1981. Salzburg followed with its national park legislation in 1984. And the Provincial Parliament of Tyrol passed the legislation to create the Hohe Tauern National Park in 1992.


International acclaim

The years of 2001 and 2006 marked the next milestones in the national park's history. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN awarded Carinthia in 2001 and Salzburg and Tyrol in 2006 with the international recognition of a national park with its "Category II" listing. The distinction that the national park has with a core zone, where nature can develop without human influence and an outer zone, where traditional cultivation could be continued was key for gaining this international recognition. Contractual agreements between landowners, hunters and the national park paved the way and were pioneering for many protected areas.


Responsibilities – business fields

It is not just the legal basis and objectives that are crucial for the development of a protected area. The establishment of a professional management organisation primarily realised by the national park authority is vital too.  Natural resource management, science and research, along with education and visitor information are the central responsibilities of any national park across the globe, as specified by the IUCN.

The preservation of the cultivated landscape in the outer zone as well as regional development and tourism are additional key areas of national park management. Conscious of the fact that the Hohe Tauern National Park is not isolated in its existence but is embedded in the region in a lively national park region where people live, work and earn money, the national park authority makes a substantial contribution to regional development with its varied activities and programmes.



National park history -

the formation of the Alps

 

 

The Tauern Window is an unusual geological feature:

You can view an exciting journey through the millennia of Earth's history.

 

Read more

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