Environment Agency Austria EAA
The forest area in Austria, particularly the Alpine forest ecosystems, increasingly suffers from stress and damage caused by anthropogenic influences and natural disasters. Global climate change impacts, such as droughts, heavy rainfall, disastrous storms and subsequent bark beetle infestation have reduced the resistance of the trees and, as a result, also the protective capabilities of the forests (protection against storm, erosion, overly rapid water drainage and subsequent risks of flooding and mudslides, and against avalanches). These protective capabilities of the forest area are essential for the preservation of the alpine ecosystems. More specifically in the context of forest damage, windfall is a sudden event that causes a chaotic situation in the affected forest areas. To react adequately, forest managers require detailed information on the size of the damaged areas to set up the respective forest management activities and logistics as well as storage possibilities for the additional timber quantity. Precise information for the timber industry and timber market is also important to avoid market distortions, which happened already several times in Austria after the past storm events. A rapid overview on the damaged areas is also of interest with regard to the subsequent bark beetle infestations or risk of erosion and possible strategies to avoid further damages.