Thayatal National Park, Austria
Thayatal National Park is one of six national parks in Austria covering 235,000 ha. Stakeholder participation in the creation of these parks is very important. One characteristic of Austrian parks is the way that they are managed: Instead of relying on government funds, they are all established as businesses and so responsible for making their own money.
View pictures of the park
Characteristics and reasons to visit
The River Thaya cut a valley into the old granite massif along the border between Austria and the Czech Republic. The valley’s meanders are one of the main characteristics of both the Thayatal National Park (Austria) and Podyji National Park (Czech Republic). The geology and morphology create extremely different habitats within a small vicinity: one reason for the high biodiversity of both parks despite their small area. There are more than 45% of all vascular plants in Austria in the park and 19 out of 25 bat species. Great excitement was felt when evidence of a wild cat was found, an animal that had been considered to be extinct in Austria for more than 35 years.
The location of the park on the border of Austria also had some advantages. For more than 40 years the Iron Curtain divided Austria and the Czech Republic and the area remained almost undisturbed by human interference. Neither roads nor technical infrastructure cut across the National Parks.
The park is administered by the National Park Thayatal Ltd, of which the Republic of Austria and the province of Lower Austria share ownership. The National Park therefore acts as a service provider for the protection of nature.
Location and size
Thayatal National Park is located approximately 100 km north of Vienna at the border with the Czech Republic. The nearest Austrian town is Retz, and in the Czech Republic, it is Znojmo.
The park covers 1,330 ha, which makes it the smallest park in Austria. Together with its Czech neighbor, Podyjí National Park, it protects an area of around 8,000 ha.
Reason for its creation
The national park was created on 1st January 2000. This was in part a reaction to the creation of the Podyjí National Park in 1991, and was seen as step forward for sustainable regional development.
The park has been recognized under IUCN cat. II since 2001. Thayatal was the first national park worldwide which was recognised after an official IUCN evaluation and the receipt of an official certificate.
Current threats and solutions
Recently there have been some differences of opinion between the Czech and the Austrian park authorities on certain topics. The impacts of a Czech hydropower plant upstream of the two parks demand a bilateral solution. A working group has been established recently to deal with this. There are also differences in the fishing regulations. Whereas Austria has reduced fishing in the park to very small areas, fishing is more or less unlimited on the Czech side.
Facts and figures
Founded 1 January 2000; size 1330 ha; core zone area 91 % of the park; approximately 40.000 visitors per year; Habitat: mixed deciduous forest (approx. 90%), meadows and dry meadows (approx. 6 %), rivers and brooks (approx. 4 %); awards: IUCN, Cat. II (2001), European Diploma (2003), Transboundary Parks - Following Natures Design (EUROPARC, 2007).