Caring for Soils - Where Our Roots Grow.

A comprehensive overview of the concept and test of sustainable forest management using the ecosystem services approach. The REPORT is divided into two parts, which present individual closed chapters. Part I is a theoretical overview of the two concepts and provides a theoretical framework of how ecosystem services are integrated into sustainable forest management, part II is a case study showing the results of the Soil Function Assessment and the Soil Forest Management categorisation for the selected soil pits investigated in the Tyrolean Case Study in the forest area of Prägraten.


Applicable soil thematic maps on soil degradation threats

Soil management is inherent part of various sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, spatial planning, construction etc. To prevent soil degradation while performing sectors activities we need diverse information.

Hereafter are presented maps of different information, used in different sectors. Use of specific maps help improve management to minimize soil threats (e.g. erosion, contamination, biodiversity loss).

Integration of soil protection best practices into forest management plans

An important improvement was done in the frame of the project, with the recent addition of a Forest Type-based thematic map, showing the effects on forest soil nutrient availability of “whole-trees” harvesting measures. The traffic light system, refined and applied also in the project Case Study area of Prägraten, defines guidelines both for biomass use and compaction risk effects for each Forest Type. By explaining in detail the methodology for assigning traffic light categories in the Case Study area and specifying the respective measures to adopt in the forest, this report describes a substantial part of the management plans.

Forest site productivity assessment based on soil data

Site productivity is an important characteristic of a stand and it is used in forest management for planning harvesting intensity, timesheet of measures and regeneration tactics. There is no “perfect” method for site productivity assessment, however, it must be operational and low-cost. Most often methods using dominant three height of the stand are used. Other methods include total wood production assessments or phytosociological approach. Calculating forest site productivity is less demanding for even-aged stands than for uneven-aged ones.
The forest site productivity is presented on ten selected forest sites typical for Slovenia and Tyrol (Austria). Forest site types are based on the ecological and floristic similarity of forest plant communities. Forest site types were further divided into the important syntax (phytosociological units), on the basis of which forest site productivity was evaluated. To this end, both sides used different methods. Additionally, different examples of forest site productivity evaluations are explained in the report.

Description of the case study sites


The forest group of the Tyrolean Government generated thematic maps from already existing soil data on soil functions and threats, such as waterlogging, compaction risk and nutrient-loss in forest areas. Those maps were then integrated in management plans for community forests. Evaluation of the results in the field and creation of a good practice example was accomplished in a case study in the municipality of Prägraten. Geographically the municipality of Prägraten is located in the district Lienz (Osttirol; Austria) in the Virgen valley. As in many other municipalities in Tyrol tourism is important for the value creation. The main part of the municipality is inbedded in the national park “Hohe Tauern”. A famous mountain in Prägraten is the Großvenediger with 3.674m height. As the municipality is situated at about 1.300 m.a.s.l. the landscape is in general very mountainous. Due to that fact only about 7% of the municipality is forest area (approx. 1.200 ha). Agricultural areas are mainly used as pastures and meadows.

So far there have been few soil profiles taken in the forest areas in Prägraten, the soil types were Braunerde and Pararendzina ranking from shallow to deep soils. More soil profiles in forests will be taken and analyzed within the project. Woods are essential ecosystems, which – compared to grassland – grow much higher and produce a huge amount of biomass. Because of that they influence the climate in the surrounding area and cause a feedback on the ground they are standing on. On the other hand different geological material causes various types of soils and in turn leads to different forest stand types (natural vegetation) with varying ecosystem services. It is therefore necessary to have knowledge about the different soils, their properties and how they are influenced in order to preserve or generate healthy soils and with that forests that can provide many ecosystem services. Besides offering ecosystem services like carbon storage, air purification and others, forests serve especially in mountainous regions as hazard protection for e.g. rockfall, avalanches and play a decisive role in water flow regulation. To enable the forests to fulfill these protective functions at a high level, soil functions have to be considered and implemented in planning. In the last centuries Austrian forests and their soils suffered from depletion, because for the production of glass, salt and iron as well as for livestock huge amounts of wood and biomass were consumed, forests diminished, forests converted and with that soils degraded. In the end of the 20th century with recognizing those facts and furthermore realizing that forests have to be prepared for climate change, the foresters began to restore natural stand types. Besides dealing with those past burdens, modern forestry management nowadays faces new challenges in soil protection. Heavy machinery can lead to compaction on vulnerable soil types. Biomass plants increase and with that the pressure of gaining more biomass (and through that nutrients) from forests. It is therefore important to integrate soil data in the characterizations of these forests (stand type characterization) which are used for management planning. Furthermore adapted harvesting methods (whole tree to single trunk) can guide the nutrient removal and protect soil fertility. For the decision makers in forestry planning and also in spatial planning it will in the future be indispensable to include soil-knowledge in their expertise. Due to that we provided those stakeholders with helpful tools. The integration of the thematic maps in the management plans of community forests, which are created every 20 years, were tested and promoted in a municipality. Outcomes and lesson learned wer integrated in the management plan templates for other municipalities in Tyrol for future implementation in the next planning periods.


In the region of Landsberg/Lech in Bavaria life more than 100000 inhabitants.

The river Lech brought a lot of material from the Alps and is responsible for nearly the half of our soils (“Schotter-+Aueböden”) with a lot of stones.

The other soils are very fruitful (loamy made by winderosion ).

Kaufering has only 15% forests and Landsberg 26%, that is about 10% fewer as the average in Bavaria with 36%.











Photo 1: Majors of the practice team (from right to left: major Günther Först, Igling; major Ericht Püttner, Kaufering; Ludwig Pertl, project manager; major Erwin Losert, Obermeitingen. Back: major Manfred Menhard, Scheuring and major Erwin Karg, Fuchstal. © Mr.Tobisch

Photo 2: Map of the region Landsberg/Lech and Kaufering + Scheuring + Obermeitingen + Igling + Fuchstal.


"The Market Community of Kaufering and the Communities of Scheuring, Obermeitingen and Igling are very proud to be able to participate in the project „Links4Soils“= Lebenswerter Alpenraum (Liveable Areas in the Alpine Region) with their concept of "Sustainable Adaption with the Forces of Nature" as a practice partner within the INTERREG-program with the alpine region as its focus area.

This work is of prime importance, as the weather extremes we are expecting in our region in the future have to be reduced as far as possible. That's why we need holistic decisions that aim for the greatest possible longterm benefit. This means, in the first place, to achieve an increase of soil and a soil improvement as well as an intact water cycle.

The acceptable limits have already been exceeded, both regarding the climate change as well as the amount of nitrogen and the more and more reduced biodiversity. As temperature is increasing, in our region, twice as fast as worldwide, it's not only the greenhouse gases we should be focused on, but also the water cycle - which is responsible for around 66% of the climate performance.

In former times, the temperature was the limiting factor of growth. But in the future, it will be the plant available water during the vegetation period that will be the decisive limiting factor.

That's why it's the fully functional soil with a really good humus that is our most important measure to adapt to climate change. Within this process, it's the earthworm with its remarkable performance that will be playing a key role. The earthworm contributes to solve the following problem areas: Acidification, nitrogen, biodiversity, air and water storage.

Without a sustainable adaption, the ecosystem services we need cannot be rendered any longer. Especially in such sensible regions like the alpine region, where we have an important risk of erosion, we will notice a dramatical worsening of the quality of life.

Therefore, it's unjustifiable to lose even more precious time. We wish the project „Links4Soils“ a lot of good and sustainable results that will rapidly be put into practice on a large scale."

Erich Püttner, 1st Mayor of the Market Community of Kaufering


Study area Triglav national park (TNP) is the only national park in Slovenia (almost 880 km2, nearly 4% of the Slovenian surface). The Triglav National Park extends along the Italian border and close to the Austrian border in the north-west of Slovenia, that is, in the south-eastern section of the Alps. It is among the earliest European parks; the first protection dates back to 1924.

The landscape in TNP is characterised by glacier shaped valleys, mountain plateaus and steep mountain ridges above the tree line. It is a typical mixture between unspoiled nature areas and cultural landscape. The main land uses are: forests (62 %) and managed grasslands (10 %). The typical forest types in the park are: European beech forests on carbonate parent rock (27 981 ha), dwarf mountain pine forests (11350 ha), silver fir-European beech forests (4925 ha), and silver fir-Norway spruce forests (4191 ha). The park provides a variety of ecosystem services. On the one hand nature conservation, environment and cultural heritage protection as well as recreation and tourism (about two million tourists per year) are the most important ecosystem services in TNP; on the other hand agriculture and forestry are important for the 2444 people living in the park.

Most of our activities will be focused on mountain plateau Pokljuka (approximately 20 km *15 km). Pokljuka is the biggest forest complex in TNP, mostly covered with Norwegian spruce forests and silver fir-European beech forests with high economical value.  The area is important for tourism, recreation and nature protection. At Pokljuka among other things you may find one of southerner raised bogs in Europe. Our goal: preparation of guidelines for forest practitioners i.e. use of forest technologies, building infrastructure, protection and erosion – protective function, silviculture…