Wald, in Österreich
Woods and Forests in Austria: They cover an area of 3.92 million hectares (1998), i.e. 46 % of the total area and are constantly increasing in size. Austria ranks third as the most densely forested country in Europe (behind Finland and Sweden). The most densely forested regions lie in the Pre-Alps from Salzburg to Lower Austria and at the eastern edge of the Alps, from the Koralpe and the Saualpe mountains via the mountains in the Mur-Mürz region to the Wechsel region. Because of Austria´s mountainous character a large part of the Austrian woods and forests are protective forests (755,000 hectares), the majority of which are not used for commercial purposes (466,000 hectares). However, about 83 % of the woods and forests in Austria can be used for commercial purposes (commercial forests): mainly timber forests (regeneration by seed, long utilisation cycle), only approx. 3 % are copses. Commercial forests are made up of 61.4 % spruces, 9.2% beeches, 9.0 % pine trees and 6.8 % larch trees; the percentage of fir trees had fallen to under 3 % due to browsing by game and air pollution (Forest Dieback) but has recently risen to 4.6%, oaks make up 2.4 %. The natural composition of woods and forests in terms of various tree species has undergone constant changes since the Middle Ages due to forest management measures (firewood and construction timber, forest pastures, clearances), and the percentage of coniferous trees has increased over the last 150 years. The make-up of the forest communities depends on sea level and Alpine location (central or marginal). Among the main tree species, spruce dominates the Central Alps, the Limestone Alps and the Bohemian Massif, pine dominates the Waldviertel region, Burgenland, south-eastern Styria and the Carinthian basin; beech is predominant in the Pre-Alps, the south-eastern plains and hills (Styria) and the area south of the River Drau, but is not found in Alpine regions. Forests rich in oak trees are found at altitudes below 300-400 m sea level in the plains and hills of eastern Austria. As a rule the percentage of natural coniferous tree populations increases with the sea level. A zone of coniferous forests, with spruce, larch, Swiss pine or dwarf pine, is found above 1,400 m sea level. At the edge of the Alps the forest line lies at 1,600 m, in the central Alps at 2,000 m sea level.