Towards Best Soil Management Practices in the Alps



Soil management is an inherent part of various sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, spatial planning, construction etc. To prevent soil degradation while performing sectors activities we need diverse information.

During the project, we developed many documents in order to raise awareness on sustainable management practices in the forest. We have also worked closely with our stakeholders in order to present current challenges in this sector.

Hereafter are presented maps of different information, used in different sectors. Use of specific maps helps improve management to minimize soil threats (e.g. erosion, contamination, biodiversity loss).


Integration of soil protection best practices into forest management plans

An important improvement was done in the frame of the project, with the recent addition of a Forest Type-based thematic map, showing the effects on forest soil nutrient availability of “whole-trees” harvesting measures. The traffic light system, refined and applied also in the project Case Study area of Prägraten, defines guidelines both for biomass use and compaction risk effects for each Forest Type. By explaining in detail the methodology for assigning traffic light categories in the Case Study area and specifying the respective measures to adopt in the forest, this report describes a substantial part of the management plans.



Guidelines for sustainable soil management
Digest: Forest management

These guidelines bring together the current state of knowledge regarding good practices for sustainable soil management that could be applied in forest management. Their aim is to provide a synthetic, useful tool for practitioners that can help them mitigate potential threats affecting mountain soils, and to promote sustainable soil management. This booklet describes the main threats to Alpine soils resulting from forest practices and suggests selected mitigation measures.



Forest site productivity assessment based on soil data

Site productivity is an important characteristic of a stand and it is used in forest management for planning harvesting intensity, timesheet of measures and regeneration tactics. There is no “perfect” method for site productivity assessment, however, it must be operational and low-cost. Most often methods using dominant three height of the stand are used. Other methods include total wood production assessments or phytosociological approach. Calculating forest site productivity is less demanding for even-aged stands than for uneven-aged ones.
The forest site productivity is presented on ten selected forest sites typical for Slovenia and Tyrol (Austria). Forest site types are based on the ecological and floristic similarity of forest plant communities. Forest site types were further divided into the important syntax (phytosociological units), on the basis of which forest site productivity was evaluated. To this end, both sides used different methods. Additionally, different examples of forest site productivity evaluations are explained in the report.



 Use of timber harvesting technology – when and where?

In the Alpine world, natural disturbances are frequent and regularly occur on a larger or smaller scale. In 2015, foresters in Triglav National Park (TNP), on the mountain plateau Pokljuka (SI) were confronted with a decision on how to make effective salvage cutting after the extensive snow throw.

In 2015 for the first time, timber harvesting was used for the salvage cutting in TNP. The technology used is quick and efficient; on the other hand, it may cause irreversible damage to forest soils. Map of soil suitability with three categories was prepared:

  • The timber harvesting is forbidden
  • The timber harvesting is allowed under special conditions (frozen soils or snow cover 0.5 m)
  • Timber harvesting is allowed


Best Practices examples from the forest sector:


Sustainable adaptation with the power of nature: Markt Kaufering

The high proportion of conifers (spruce) and the high pollutant inputs have led to unfavourable soil development in native forests.

In order to counteract these problems, 5 municipalities in Landsberg and some of the adjoining landowners decided to collaborate with individually developed adaptation concepts until 2050. The aim is the improvement of the soil conditions in order to increase its efficiency and thereby dampen the impacts of climate change and the resulting weather extremes.