Vienna is a green city — about one-fifth of the city is covered by forests and woods, and more than half of the entire city area comprises woods, meadows, parks and gardens. Vienna’s woods provide a habitat for many rare plants and animal species, and reach into the city itself. This greenery provides a recreational area much-loved by residents and visitors alike. Thanks to this green environment, residents of Vienna enjoy an excellent quality of life — a direct result from policies promoted and implemented by the city authorities.
“More than half of Vienna is covered by woods, meadows, parks and gardens. It is largely thanks to these huge ‘green lungs’ that we can boast an excellent quality of life. This is no coincidence: it is the result of consistent urban green space policy.”
There are around 1,000 hectares of forest within the city limits. Ongoing activities include establishing new forested areas, in order to expand the Green Belt of Vienna, and maintaining recreation areas and facilities, such as hiking trails, benches, playgrounds, footpaths and cycle paths. Planning, design and maintenance of attractive green areas is central to urban planning. The city manages the urban forests, woods and meadows without using pesticides and fertilizers.
Around 7,500 hectares of nearby forests are maintained as protected areas. Here activities are focused on nature conservation; tending and maintaining of meadows; planting shelter woods and seeding adjoining fallow land; providing information for visitors about woods and forests; maintaining footpaths and roads; game management; sale of timber; and environmental education.
An additional 33,000 hectares of forest is safeguarding the quality of Vienna’s drinking water by filtering pollutants and slowing down and storing rain and supported through local government policy. Vienna’s forest management is based on ecologically sound practices and activities, including game management; sale of timber; provision of information for visitors to woods forests and alpine space; and the maintenance of footpaths and roads.
The Imperial Gardens of Vienna
The Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria, was the residence of the Habsburg emperors from the 18th century to early 20th century. During the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, an impressive baroque garden was built around the palace: a symbol of imperial power and a homage to nature. The grounds of Schönbrunn cover 160 hectares, including the world’s first zoo, a Great Parterre with patterned flower beds, a Palm House with exotic specimens from all over the world and an Orangery of 189 meters long and 10 meters wide. Today, these gardens are part of Schönbrunn’s UNESCO World Heritage and provide a popular recreational activity for the Viennese and for international visitors: from taking a walk, visiting the zoo or the Palm House to picking wild garlic in the woods. “These gardens, together with the woods, meadows and parks, cover more than half of the entire city. It is largely thanks to these huge ‘green lungs’ that Vienna boasts an excellent quality of life,” points out Ulli Sima, Councillor of the City of Vienna.
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