Austria names peatland areas in Styria for the Ramsar List

Austria names peatland areas in Styria for the Ramsar List

26 November 2004

The Ramsar Secretariat is delighted to announce that Austria, just a few months after having designated a number of valuable mires in the Salzburg region, has named, as of 15 October 2004, a small collection of bogs, mires and fens in the Steiermark region in the southeast. The Moore am Nassköhr site (211 hectares, 47°43'N 15°33'E), already a Nature Reserve, comprises a number of mires that are all near-natural except for one bog, the Torfstichmoor, which had been used as a peat cut in the 19th century; the others, however, have been more or less affected by cattle grazing and trampling. In a joint project with the landowners, the Austrian Federal Forests (ÖBf-AG), the Institute of Ecology and Conservation Biology of Vienna University (IECB), and WWF-Austria initiated a management plan financed by the ÖBf-AG in order to improve the conditions for the peatlands. This is an outstanding example of private nature conservation activities in Austria. In spring 2002 the ÖBf-AG built dams into all drainage channels and in autumn - after long-lasting negotiations with the farmers - they began building a fence to keep the cattle out from most of the mires. A brief description of the site by Estelle Gironnet, with some photos of both the site and the presentation of Ramsar site certificates by the Austrian Ramsar National Committee, follow.

Moore am Nassköhr. 15/10/04; Styria; 211 ha; 47°43'N 15°33'E; Nature Reserve. A karst depression of the northern limestone Alps which presents bogs, transitional mires, and fens.The site supports a high biodiversity of the associated mire vegetation; typical species include the Few-flowered Sedge (Carex pauciflora), the Sundews Drosera anglica, D. intermedia, and D. rotundifolia, Bogbean, Bog Swertia, and numerous moss species.The limestone bedrock is covered with a layer of impermeable shale at the origin of the formation of the peatlands, springs and streams. The streams flow into a meandering brook that vanishes into a "swallow hole", the Durchfall. The wetland has an important role in groundwater recharge and water retention, especially after heavy rainfall. 19th century peat extraction, long discontinued, still negatively affects the hydrology by lowering the water table and initiating erosion channels, and trampling by cattle has caused disturbance of the vegetation cover - under a joint project of the landowners, the Austrian Federal Forests, WWF- Austria, and the Institute of Ecology and Conservation Biology of Vienna University, begun in 2002, peat extraction and drainage are prohibited in the mires and a fence to prevent grazing has been set up. Outside the mires, sustainable forest management, hunting and pasturing are continuing. Ramsar site no. 1404.

Federal Forests personnel explaining management measures at the site to members of the Austrian National Ramsar Committee.

[from left] Gerhard Sigmund (Ramsar Coordinator in the Ministry of Environment), Gert Michael Steiner (Institute of Ecology and Conservation Biology, University of Vienna), Reinhold Turk (Environment Ministry of Styria), Gerald Plattner (Nature Protection Unit of the Austrian Federal Forests (ÖBf AG))

Dr Gerhard Sigmund opens the meeting of the Austrian National Ramsar Committee (27-28 October 2004): during a special ceremony [below], Mr Landesrat Seitinger presents the diploma for Moore am Nassköhr Ramsar Site to the Austrian Federal Forests representatives and to the mayor of the municipality of Neuberg an der Mürz.