The “Wilderness Dürrenstein” is an IUCN category 1a and 1b area of currently 3,500 ha in southwestern Lower Austria on the border to Styria, surrounding the summit of the Dürrenstein (1,878m). In geological terms, Dachstein limestone and dolomite predominate. Mean annual temperature is 3.9 °C, with annual precipitation of up to 2,300mm. Accordingly, the site is a relatively cool, rainy and sub-Atlantic climate. Forests within the area comprise typical vegetation for the Northern Limestone Alps. The greater part comprises beech, fir and spruce, with the ancient woodland of Rothwald within the Dürrenstein Wilderness Area being the most important ancient spruce, fir and beech woodland in the entire Alpine range. Deciduous and ravine forests are found on very humid and steep slopes and consist of hardwoods such as sycamore, ash and wych elm.
Natural spruce forests within the region are very small in scale e.g. on scree and in a narrow band along the upper forest limit on rocky sites. Mountain pines continue the woody vegetation in the so-called “Krummholz” zone across the included forest area. Within the forest belt, cliffs and scree are naturally unwooded. In terms of fauna, practically the entire spectrum of eastern Alpine species are represented here, and together with individual brown bears and occasional lynx, typical species such as red deer, chamois and mountain hares should be mentioned. Other typical species are mountain newts, Alpine salamander, adders, the white-backed woodpecker that is rarely found in Austria and above all, the very abundant dead-wood fauna. Tasks and goals: