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The knowledge of site potential is a fundamental planning element of forest management. Site and Vegetation Research is also an essential requirement for the concerns of nature conservation and environmental protection thus providing the basis for decision-making processes in forestry. The tasks of the Unit of Site and Vegetation Research comprise the assessment of characteristic site parameters, the classification of forest sites according to permanent and variable site factors as well as the spatial presentation of those sites (mapping). Vegetation ecology deals with the classification of forest vegetation in vegetation communities. If we have enough information on ecological demands of forest plants we are able to make prognoses on the site factors that form a forest stand, including its history and use.

Special attention is given to close cooperation with silviculture. In a way, site research provides the knowlegde-based framework for silvicultural activities like tree species selection, stand conversion, utilisation, etc. Within these limits ecologically sustainable forest management is guaranteed.

Emphasis is also placed on forest hydrology. In anticipation of climate change, it is essential to understand the changes in the water regime of forest sites and the consequences thereof. In addition to physical properties, research focuses on soil water chemistry of various forest soils.

Priority Areas of Work

  • Site diagnosis – ecological characterisation of forest sites
  • Site classification and site mapping – assessment of the site potential
  • Characterisation and classification of forest communities
  • Forest hydrology: water regime of forest sites, soil water chemistry
  • Soil taxonomy
  • Humus diagnosis and germination bed studies
  • Vegetation surveys
  • Layout and maintenance of permanent plots for ecological monitoring
  • Operation of measuring sites to assess water regimes, micro and local climate of forest stands
  • Determination of physical soil properties and soil water chemistry
  • Completion of a survey of forest site maps in Austria (DB Metamap)
  • Scientific management of databases: soil, vegetation, meteorology, hydrology
  • Operation of a herbarium