In addition to the protection of natural and near-natural habitats, national parks also serve as valuable recreational areas where visitors can experience unspoilt nature. However, the designation of trails results in the obligation to remove risks of ageing or deased trees along the ways. On Natural Trails in the national parks, these measures are kept to a minimum - use only with a high level of caution and attentiveness!
Initiated by the national parks, visitors get the chance to observe natural processes much more proximate on Natural Trails. Trees are allowed to grow old and die along the way and serve as valuable means of livelihood for many species. Birds, bats, insects, fungi and bacteria require a wide variety of deadwood stages and conditions as a habitat or food source.
For the visitors, however, this also means that they must reckon with the hazards of a natural forest and their own behaviour in the forest has to be adapted to the given conditions. Hazard sources can be for example old dying trees - recognisable by tree hollows, woodpecker holes or tree fungi. Branches can potentially fall down. It is therefore important to move about on one's own responsibility on Natural Trails and to be aware of potential dangers like branch breakage. Sharpen your senses and be especially attentive in the forest sections marked by information signs.
The national parks recommend that when walking on a Natural Trail to pay special attention to the following:
- The area of the treetops
- Branches or trunk parts in danger of falling
- Old dying trees, recognisable by tree hollows, woodpecker holes or tree fungi
- Branches or trees lying on the pathway
- Noises emanating from trees - abstain from wearing headphones!
- Do not rest beneath trees with a high proportion of deadwood
- In the event of strong winds or snowfall forest areas should be left immediately or not entered.
A walk on Natural Trails can be experienced in the Donau-Auen, Kalkalpen, Gesäuse and Thayatal National Park.