All excursions will take place on Friday 14 September 2018

The soda lakes, alkaline steppes und dry pastures of Nationalpark Neusiedler See-Seewinkel

The excursion will highlight characteristic habitats of national park Neusiedler See-Seewinkel: Neusiedler See itself, as the westernmost example of an Eurasian steppe lake, the vast reed belt of the lake and the soda lakes, alkaline steppes, salt marshes and dry pastures of the Seewinkel area. The excursion will provide information on landscape and land-use history, as well as on the history of nature conservation in the region. It will point to the key role of groundwater level fluctuations in the functionning of Pannonian salt habitats, and inform about management practices and ongoing restoration attempts by the national park. Since the steppe wetlands are often dry in September, the focus will most be on the halophytic flora of the region; only in the case of unusually high water levels, waterbirds will form another focal topic.

08.00: Departure Alte WU, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Wien

09.00: Watchtower in the „Hölle“-area: View of Neusiedler See and its reed belt. Introduction to the landscape, the history and the limnological features of the lake.

10.00: National Park information centre Illmitz. Visit to nearby salt habitats (2 km walk). Zonation of vegetation on solonchak soils, role of groundwater level fluctuations in the maintenance of alkaline sites.

12.30: Picknick at the information centre

13.00: History, organisation and management of the national park

14.00: Depending on water levels either walk into the dry pastures around Lange Lacke (6 km walking distance) or visit to the Hungarian grey-cattle pasture south of Apetlon (2 km walking distance). Focus on steppe and soda lake habitat management and restoration activities.

19.00: Return Alte WU, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Wien

Excursion guides: Marianne Kohler-Schneider, Bernhard Kohler

Maximum number of participants: 25

Price: Euro 45.00, includes bus transfer and lunch box

Soda lake and alkaline steppe in the Seewinkel area (© B. Kohler/WWF).

Tripolium pannonicum (Pannonian Sea Aster), typical species of Pannonic solonchak meadows (© B. Kohler/WWF).

Steppic Refugium in the Weinviertel, North East Austria

The Weinviertel, a part of Lower Austria, forms the westernmost part of the Pontic-South Siberian region. Dry and semi-dry grasslands of mostly secondary character occur in this area on jurassic limestone hills reaching as high as 500 m and on loess slopes. The small hilltops of Falkensteiner Berge on shallow (proto) rendzina are covered by the Onobrychis-Brachypodietum (semi-dry gasslands). On loess there are chernozems with the vegetation of Salvia-Festucetum. Floristic rarities are Crambe tatarica (Steppenroller) in the nature reserve Zeiserlberg (Astragalo exscapiCrambetum tartariae) and Krascheninnikovia ceratoides near Oberschoderlee on loess slopes. Both are flagship species for the Pannonic loess steppic grasslands (priority habitat type 6250 of FFH-directive). Typical faunal elements are European hares (Lepus europaeus), European ground squirrels (Spermophilus citellus) and European hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) as well as Grey partridges (Perdix perdix), Red kites (Milvus milvus), Imperial eagles (Aquila heliaca) and Saker falcons (Falco cherrug).

The main agricultural use on loess is viniculture, like in Haugsdorf where we see the typical wine cellars (“Kellergasse”) and on loess terraces Bassia prostrata, a relict of the postglacial steppe.

Departure: 08:00 a.m., return app. 05:00/06:00 p.m.

Price: Euro 45.00, including bus transfer and lunch at a “Heuriger”

Excursion guides: Karl-Georg BERNHARDT, Klaus HACKLÄNDER

Further information: EIJSINK et al (1978): Dry and semi-dry grasslands in the Weinviertel, Lower Austria.- Vegetatio Vol. 36,3: 129-148.

The Subalpine and alpine vegetation and flora of Mt. Schneeberg

Mt. Schneeberg is part of the Styrian-Lower Austrian Calcareous Mountain group being the north-eastern most of the higher mountain ranges and corner stone to the Vienna Basin. Compared to the neighbouring high mountain ranges (Rax, Schneealpe, Veitsch, Hochschwab) the terrain is different with only a small portion of the typical high-elevation karst landscape. Metereological conditions are also slightly different compared to Rax in receiving notably lower precipitation. At the starting point of the excursion (the top railway station) we are already in the subalpine zone with mountain pine scrub and various grasslands depending on the topography. On windswept points we can see already the typical alpine grassland formed by the small sedge Carex firma. Aspect, elevation and land-use (subalpine pasture land) are important factors shaping the diversity. The plant communities and the flora are introduced and a special focus is given to the endemics.

07.00: Departure of bus „Alte WU“, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna

09.00: Railway station Puchberg am Schneeberg: Ascend to Schneeberg by Schneebergbahn (ca. 1 hour to top station).

10.00: Top station: Introduction of the territory, vegetational zones, geology, soil, land use.

10:30: Walking tour to the summit of Hochschneeberg: Flora/vegetation esp. the subalpine and alpine grasslands

12.30: Picnic around the summit/stop at mountain hut

13.30: Walking back to top station: Flora/vegetation esp. on rocks, scree and in the snow beds

16.00: Top station: way down by Schneebergbahn

17:00: Departure of bus, Railway station Puchberg am Schneeberg

ca. 19.00: Return to „Alte WU“, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna

Excursion guide: Josef Greimler

Maximum number of participants: 32

Price: Euro 75.00, including bus transfer, cable car return fee, and lunch box

Mt. Schneeberg seen from Rax: Subalpine spruce forest, mountain pine scrub, rocks, scree and various grasslands (© J. Greimler).

Primula clusiana (Clusius-Primel), (Sub-)endemic in Carex firma grassland (© J. Greimler).

The Danube Alluvial Forest National Park

The excursion highlights the ecology of the Alluvial Forest National Park at the Danube east of Vienna. The area represents the last large scale remains of alluvial landscapes in Central Europe. In winter 1984 due to strong public opposition a hydropower dam construction at Hainburg was stopped. In 1996 an Alluvial Forest National Park was opened. Since 1994 a series of restoration projects were initiated with the goal to improve the ecological integrity of the river-floodplain system. The excursion intends to present the management challenges of the area, its conservation value and the goals of restoration activities.

08.00: Departure from „Alte WU“, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna

8.45. Arrival Schönau


Group 1: Walking tour: cross section through floodplain. Subsequent boat ride with a rubber dinghy from Schönau to Orth.

Group 2: Walking tour: cross section through floodplain. Transfer by bus to the National Park Centre.

12.00-13.30: Lunch at Orth an der Donau (picnic)


Group 1: Walking tour through the National Park at Orth towards the NP Centre.

Group 2: Boat trip with a historic wooden “Tschaike”. Visit of a ship-mill. Pickup with the bus.

16.15 Return to Vienna, via Hainburg, Stopover at Braunsberg with a scenic view over the Danube floodplains.

18.00-18.30 Arrival at „Alte WU“, Augasse 2-6, 1090 Vienna

Maximum number of participants: 40

Price: Euro 70.00, includes bus transfer, tour with rubber dinghy, visit national park centre, lunch box

Excursion guide: Fritz Schiemer, Christian Baumgartner, Karoline Zak

(© C. Baumgartner)

(© S. Bergauer)

(© F. Kern)