Establishing a Climate-Research Forest: Cooperation between BFW, OMV and the Ministry

Vienna/Matzen-Raggendorf, October 2019: Climate change increases pressure on forest ecosystems. On one hand this means that carbon dioxide (CO2) needs to be reduced effectively in the coming years, on the other hand, forests need to be adapted to cope with changing climate conditions. OMV is therefore supporting the climate-research forest of the Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW) in the Lower Austrian district of Matzen-Raggendorf, a research project that will run until 2030. 

BFW will establish a climate-research forest on three plots in the east of Lower Austria. The measure includes reforestation, forest management and long-term scientific investigations. Research will be conducted into different types of forests consisting of native and non-native trees to examine how they respond to changing climate conditions. Additional emphasis will be placed on the impact of reforestation on unstocked land and on biodiversity conservation. From 2021 onwards, the climate-research forest will be open to the public for recreational purposes offering also a forest nature trail that will encourage visitors to find out more about nature and the importance of woodlands.


Forests face major challenges

In future, trees will not only have to cope with rising temperatures, but also with more frequent extreme weather events. At the same time, we are all relying on the forests’ ability to fulfil their many ecosystem services also in the future – and especially their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air and to provide long-term storage of the same. This important contribution to regulate the climate must be maintained if we don’t want to make the climate crisis even worse. Austrian forests store around 3.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – equivalent to around 40 times Austria’s carbon-dioxide emissions.
Subject to global efforts and success stories to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, our climate may develop one of many different scenarios with varying impact on forest ecosystems. And this is why forest management needs to be flexible and open to change.

Mixed and climate resistant forests

Mixed forests can play a decisive role in mitigating the risks of climate change as they make it easier to balance out disturbances. They are capable of storing more carbon dioxide per hectare than many single-species forests. Several tree species native to Austria have already been affected by climate change. In future, non-native species and seeds originating from our southern neighbors as well as from North America and Asia could help Austria’s forests to fulfil all of their important ecological functions.

The aim of the research project is to plant a wide range of tree species in order to find out which species and provenances are most suited to provide the desired  ecosystem services also in the future. In addition to carbon storage capacity, these include benefits such as biodiversity maintenance and  recreation purposes.
The project area is located at the lower forest border of eastern Austria, in a cultural region called  “Weinviertel”. In this sparsely wooded region, the remaining forests are of major importance because of their contribution to conservation and recreation. In addition, the climate-research forest will offer a nature trail with display boards so that the local population may use it as  a place for communication, education and recreation.

Partner for the Climate-Research Forest

The climate-research forest is a joint research project supported by OMV, the Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW), the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, the district of Matzen-Raggendorf, the Klosterneuburg Monastery, the Municipal Association of Lower Austrian Oil and Gas Associations and the Federal Province of Lower Austria. In the coming years, a climate-fit mixed forest should be established and monitored by scientists on a total area of five hectares. It will deliver findings of long-term impact for the future of forest management in order to sustainably secure the essential function of our forests – namely CO2 capture and storage.

Sustainability Strategy of OMV

The climate-research forest is one of multiple climate projects within the focus area “Business Principles and Social Responsibility” of the OMV Sustainability Strategy.
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In the area of climate protection, OMV takes measures at all levels. In addition to achieving a continuous reduction in the carbon intensity of OMV’s operations and product portfolio, the company is investing hundreds of millions of euros in innovation projects, creating offers for CO2 offsetting, and planning CSR initiatives in fields such as recycling, energy efficiency.

Background Information

Aktiengesellschaft produces and markets oil and gas, innovative energy and high-end petrochemical solutions – in a responsible way. With Group sales of EUR 23 bn and a workforce of more than 20,000 employees in 2018, OMV Aktiengesellschaft is one of Austria’s largest listed industrial companies. In Upstream, OMV has a strong base in Romania and Austria as part of the Central and Eastern Europe core region as well as a balanced international portfolio, with Russia, North Sea, Middle East and Africa as well as Asia-Pacific as further core regions. 2018 daily production stood at approximately 427,000 boe/d. In Downstream, OMV operates three refineries with a total annual processing capacity of 17.8 mn tons and more than 2,000 filling stations in ten countries. OMV runs gas storage facilities in Austria and Germany; its subsidiary Gas Connect Austria GmbH operates a gas pipeline network in Austria. In 2018, gas sales volumes amounted to around 114 TWh. Sustainability is an integral part of the corporate strategy. OMV is set to invest EUR 500 mn in innovative energy solutions by 2025.

OMV Public Relations: Andreas Rinofner, Tel.: +43 1 404 40-21357,

The Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW) covers all aspects of forests and forest management – from an economic, ecological and social point of view. We use science to advance sustainable forest management and mitigate natural hazards, further aggravated by climate change. Our research focuses on the sustainable forest management of forests, biodiversity, natural hazards and climate change, aiming to: 1) provide national and international policy and decision; makers, forest managers and forestry consultants with solid expertise, 2) disseminate acquired and practical knowledge on to society, 3) provide vocational training for forest technicians and workers as well as environmental education practitioners and forest pedagogues at our two training centres.

In addition BFW is mandated by the Republic of Austria as the national authority to undertake surveillance tasks in regards to international trade of forest reproductive materials, forest plant health and import of forest products under various national and international regulations. All our activities serve one common goal: to provide
knowledge-based answers for the benefit of our society - worldwide.

For further information, please contact:
BFW Communication: DI Christian Lackner, Tel.: +43 1 878 38-1218,
E-Mail: BundesforschungszentrumWald

This project also contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Climate Action.

Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape (BFW)
Austria, 1131 Vienna, Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8 | Tel.: +43 1 878 38-0

Autor: Langmaier M., Schüler S.