The Hohe Tauern National Park is not much smaller than the entire federal state of Vorarlberg and extends over the three federal states of Salzburg, Carinthia and Tyrol. There is a world landscape made of rugged stone, gentle alpine meadows, thundering waterfalls and an unimagined diversity of species.
Skepticism at the beginning
But the idyll is only one side. Because, especially in its beginnings, the national park was by no means undisputed. Peter Nindl was mayor of Neukirchen am Großvenediger (Pinzgau) for 39 years – from 1979 to 2018 – and experienced the history of the national park up close: “The project was already quite controversial back then,” says Nindl today. “The big concerns back then were that a large glass dome would be put over our area – we have nothing more to say. We had quite a lot of discussions there. “
New power plants, ski areas, helicopter tourism – none of this has long ceased to be an issue in the national park. The tourist development is nevertheless: The Grossglockner High Alpine Road between Salzburg and Carinthia leads through the national park area and is used by one million visitors annually. It shouldn’t get any more, says the Salzburg nature conservation councilor Daniela Gutschi (ÖVP): “Of course you have to look at how far that can go. But I believe that we have achieved a certain amount of work here – as far as the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is concerned. “
Interests “clash” – until today
Most of the Hohe Tauern National Park is located in the state of Salzburg. The largest landowner is the Austrian Alpine Association, plus around a thousand other landowners. That doesn’t always make it easy to reconcile interests – nature conservation, agriculture and the tourism industry: “That is also what is special about the Hohe Tauern National Park because it is not just – like the American national parks – a place with a lot of area and little People, ”says Gutschi. “With us you live in the national park. And this protection and use is something very essential. That is the challenge because different interests collide. “
“We have private property where so many actors come together, where you really have to look: Where do you find the common denominator?”, Anna Pecile from the Mittersill National Park Center also knows.
Hohe Tauern National Park celebrates its 50th birthday
“Protect and use sensibly”
The Heiligenblut Agreement on October 21, 1971 between the states of Salzburg, Tyrol and Carinthia was the formal beginning of the Hohe Tauern National Park. Today – 50 years later – it has long since arrived with the population in the region: “From my point of view, it fits very well,” says Neukirchen’s former mayor Peter Nindl. “He should keep these line areas: protecting in the south of our church and sensible use in the north. Then we will get into the future quite well. “
In the National Park Center in Mittersill, information is provided all year round. National park rangers such as Herbert Hofer also work here. His wish for the future is: “He should just stay that way. That nature can be nature – that would be the most important thing for me that it is preserved. “