Extending from Austria to South-Eastern Germany, the Northern Limestone Alps are covered by alpine forests of great ecological, economic, and recreational significance. Due to climate change, large shifts in growth conditions are expected in mountain forests in the region, requiring the adaptation of forest management practices. Natural disturbances are increasingly frequent, particularly windstorms and bark beetles.
Current management in our Austrian case study focuses on timber production in certain areas and on nature conservation in others (i.e. nature reserve), where there is no human intervention or very low-intensity management. The naturally predominant tree species are Norway spruce, fir, beech and mountain maple, but the current composition is dominated by Norway spruce which has been favoured historically for its superior growth performance and ease of management. As Norway spruce is a particularly vulnerable species in a changing climate, the overall strategic aim is to reduce its share in species composition and establish mixed-species stands.