The LTSER platform Eisenwurzen represents both a natural space and a historically developed social and economic area. It does not correspond exactly to federal county borders but extends over 91 municipalities and a total area of 5,904 km2 in the counties of Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Styria.
80 % of the LTSER platform are part of the Northern Alps, 11 % of the area belong to the Northern Alpine Foothills and 9 % belong to the Central Alps. Altitudes range from 167 to 2,515 m a.s.l. The climate type is Continental. Depending on local conditions, annual precipitation values between 730 mm and 2,202 mm are measured. The annual mean temperatures range from -0.8 °C to 9.14 °C.
The LTSER Platform Eisenwurzen was established in 2004. A network of already existing institutions (national parks, research centers in the region, etc.) and high-quality documentation (data material) provide good prerequisites for the first Austrian LTSER platform. Research institutions and regional institutions, decision-making bodies and regional management participate actively in the research platform.
The region of Eisenwurzen is looking back on a more than 800-year-old land use history. It was characterised by a complex interaction of iron ore mining and transport as well as agriculture and forestry. After the decline of the mining industry overgrowth by woodland and depopulation became the most important trends for landscape and society. While iron ore mining and manufacture gave the region economic power in former times, tourism, agriculture and forestry are the determining factors today. The region presents a range of the national challenges that sustainable regional development is faced with, like a lack of jobs, migration of young people or a loss of local infrastructure (shopping facilities, schools, medical care). The distinct temporal and spatial land use gradients – embedded in global trends – make this post-mining region an interesting study area. The Eisenwurzen LTSER platform is a part of the European long-term research network LTER-Europe. In the framework of LTER-Europe, a network is being established of 40 LTSER platforms carrying out exemplary research into the natural and inhabited areas (socio-ecological regions) of Europe. Conclusions relating to these best-researched European regions can be applied to other regions within the same socio-ecological zone. These conclusions can be viewed as recommendations for regional policy and decision making on future strategy.
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
On one hand, scientists work on sociological and natural science themes in cross-disciplinary teams and in close cooperation with regional populations and their representatives. On the other hand, regional research questions are formulated and – as far as possible – integrated into research agendas. The project results build the basis for sustainable ecosystem management and preservation as well as sustainable regional development.
The research projects cover questions of:
- basic ecosystem research: e.g. at the site Zöbelboden, where long-term monitoring has been carried out into the forest ecosystem on calcareous bedrock.;
- applied biodiversity and conservation research: e.g. investigation into the impacts of increased forestation upon biodiversity brought about by the retreat of human activity;
- socio-ecological research: e.g. the Reichraming project, in which a participatively-developed integrated model shows what impacts both internal and external factors have upon material flows, community structure and agriculture.