For category I wilderness areas, research is mandatory, in concordance with the IUCN guidelines. However, this research is prohibited from disturbing the natural habitats of the nature reserve. The Wilderness Dürrenstein’s projects and research focus on creating inventories of flora and fauna, on interdisciplinary monitoring of the area, as well as on ecological disturbances. Research is done in close cooperation with the responsible scientific and specialist committees, such as universities and other authorities.

Research Focuses:

As stated in the Forschungs- und Monitoringkonzept 2013, the following topics continue to be the main concerns of the Wilderness Dürrenstein’s research program:

  • Continual inventory of flora, fauna and habitats
  • Long-term monitoring of indicator species, management measures, forest development, abiotic location factors, game population, non-indigenous species and human visitors of the wilderness area.
  • Research projects concerning process dynamic and ecological disturbances in the mountainous primeval forest as well as the ecosystemic performance of the protected ecosystems

The results of these surveys are used for a number of purposes: as an objective foundation for the ecological assessment of the wilderness area, as scientific findings in their own right, as criteria for decision-making and controlling the management measures, as well as for public relations and educational work.


All research in the Wilderness Dürrenstein must be approved. The following criteria should be observed when drawing up a research proposal:

  • Methodology: The research work must not violate the protective aim of the nature reserve, nor should it disturb sensitive species or habitats. Research should be as non-invasive as possible. Generally, observational research is preferred to experimental research methods.
  • Location specificity: Is the research only feasible in the wilderness area or could it be done in other areas to the same or sufficient extent?
  • Relevance: Are the results of the project relevant for the scientific community, for nature preservation, for the nature reserve administration’s tasks (management of the area), for educational purposes, for public relations?
  • Conformity with the main concerns of the wilderness area (see research statement)
  • Sustainability: long-term cooperative projects are preferred to short-term projects.
  • Integration: New projects should take prior research results into consideration, should build upon existing inventory and monitoring, and should connect individual projects.

Commissioning of projects takes place after the research proposals have been reviewed by the scientific advisory board.

Research Results:

The primeval forest Rothwald and the habitats of the wilderness area have been the subject of research projects for decades. In our literature database you can find all of the known scientific papers that reference the wilderness area.

You can find an overview of the research areas that have been treated to date in the research statement 2013-2022. Forschungskonzept 2013 – 2022.
[ Download research statement ]

Since 2012, the results of research done in the wilderness area have been published in “Silva Fera”, the nature reserve administration’s scientific magazine. The individual volumes of Silva Fera can be downloaded for free at our website:

Prior to the creation of the wilderness area in the year 2002, extensive research was done within the framework of a LIFE-project (investigation period 1997-2001). You can read about this research here:

The University of Natural Resources and Life Science, Vienna initiated an interdisciplinary research project concerning “Disruptive factors and control mechanisms in the dynamics of mountain forests”. You can find more details about this project by following this link Other institutes participating in this project are the Institute of Forest Ecology, the Institute of Forest Entomology, Forest Pathology and Forest Protection as well as the Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management.