Our Wilderness ...
A wild, primeval landscape and a landscape cultivated by mountain farmers: these are the two faces of the Hohe Tauern National Park. The nature reserve encom-passes sweeping, primeval Alpine landscapes, such as glaciers, rock faces and turf, as well as mountain pasture landscapes which have been carefully and painstakingly cultivated for centuries.
After the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago, the Hohe Tauern was a desolate waste of rock and scree. Animals and plants colonized this new habitat only very gradually - above all, species from the cold steppes of Central Asia, from the Arctic region and the Siberian tundra.
At first they lived in valley locations and then, as the temperatures rose again, they followed the retreating glaciers up into the mountain region, where today they form remarkable biological communities on the edge of life's very existence in the core zone of the National Park. The forest returned to the valleys - the spruce from the Balkans, larch and stone pine from the Asian taiga. It was in this way that the different vegetation layers so typical of the Alps slowly emerged. A walk from the valley up into the mountains corresponds to a 4,000 kilometre long journey into the Arctic.