Annual Report 2022

With the end of 2022, the anniversary year in Naturpark Sparbach also came to a close. The planning for the celebration and the anniversary season were marked by corona uncertainties. However, on the day of the anniversary party the weather and atmosphere were perfect. The other events of the 2022 season could also be held as planned.

As this exciting year comes to an end, we would like to take a moment and look back on a diverse and colorful season. Allow us to shine a spotlight on some of the special events with this annual report.

60 Years of Naturpark Sparbach – A Festival for Biodiversity

Naturpark Sparbach is celebrating its birthday!

On April 29th and 30th, 2022, the anniversary festival “60 Years of Naturpark Sparbach - A Festival for Biodiversity” took place in glorious spring weather.

Prince Constantin von Liechtenstein, the President of the Lower Austrian Parliament Karl Wilfing and Deputy Governor Stephan Pernkopf, representing the Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner, attended the ceremony on Friday. Stephan Pernkopf recognized the commitment of Naturpark Sparbach: “Lower Austria is one thing above all, a province of nature. Naturpark Sparbach, with its 60-year success story, is proof of this. Our total of 20 Lower Austrian nature parks make it possible to experience the beauty of our country. They harmonize excitement and experience with rest and relaxation.”

On Saturday, around 1,300 nature park guests were able to visit a wealth of experience stations with free admission and thus experience the diversity of the nature park and the cooperation of the nature park with many partners and organizations.

Link to biodiversity film:

The Light Spectacle in May

The oldest nature park in Austria was transformed into a magical, luminous forest for the second time since 2019. The transformation began at sunset: A path was staged using light installations and projections, with the light art transforming the landscape into a very special museum. Dancing, juggling light creatures as well as special sound journeys could be discovered and enjoyed along the way. A storyteller also shared tales at the campfire.

Link to the film light spectacle:

Landscapes Full of Climate Foxes – Our Action Day with the Nature Park School

On May 25th, 2022, we were able to welcome the entire nature park school, elementary school Hinterbrühl, to our nature park. After the welcome, the award ceremony for the painting competition and our nature park school song, the 135 children and their class teachers started off to the prepared stations in the nature park. There were 4 stations for each class to complete. The 1st and 2nd graders learned about the fox as a living creature with the support of Fritz. The climate box in the sand play area allowed them to experience tree species and their occurrence in the landscape with Constanze using a learning landscape. Finally, Anne helped the children to understand networks in nature and what effects climate change can have on them. For the 3rd and 4th graders, Tamara carried out an experiment on the greenhouse effect. Natalija did research with the children on the subject of temperature, measuring and feeling it. Astrid’s topic was phenology and the discovery and recognition of animal and plant species.

All the classes completed the same fourth station at the end, which was a creative station supervised by the respective class teacher.

Experience Natural and Cultural Heritage

Experiencing natural and cultural heritage while getting to know a variety of medicinal and poisonous plants, that was the focus of a joint project between the vocational school for retail and travel, training branch for pharmaceutical sales assistants, and Naturpark Sparbach. In the summer of 2021, the BMK approached Naturpark Sparbach as part of an Ecolabel cooperation to participate in this joint project. The 2021/22 school year was then used by class 2PC from the vocational school to gather knowledge about the medicinal and poisonous plants found in the nature park and create profiles on them. In the spring of 2022, when trips and excursions were possible again, the class visited Heiligenkreuz Abbey, where they were able to immerse themselves in the history of medicinal plants. Also on the agenda was a specialist excursion on the subject of medicinal and poisonous plants in Naturpark Sparbach. The conclusion of this project was a presentation by the students at the school, where project documentation and a brochure on the subject of medicinal plants were presented.

Link to the Ecolabel report:

Biodiversity Experienced Up Close

Guided tours in the last few weeks before the summer holidays enable encounters of a special kind. In 2022, we were able to record particularly frequent sightings of stag beetles and longhorn beetles during the tours at this time of the year. Much to the delight of our young guests, who were able to experience these very impressive insects up close and thus get to know the protected species and their habitats.

Groundbreaking for the Visitor Center Expansion

In October, the ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion of the visitor center took place in the presence of Deputy Governor Stephan Pernkopf. The existing visitor center has been in use for 17 years and is now being expanded by 210 m2. 160 m2 of this are allocated to the new building, which, among other things, will house the nature park office. Another 50 m2 will be used as a multifunctional room for groups. This brings the new total area of the building to almost 400 m². The entrance area for visitors will also be made more attractive and the technology will be modernized. A second entrance area will be available for busy days. Visitors with NÖ-Cards, online tickets and season tickets can enter the nature park there with a much shorter waiting time. The new visitor center is scheduled to open at the start of the 2023 season, on April 1st.

The Re-Certification with the Austrian Ecolabel

In autumn, the nature park team went through the audit for re-certification with the Austrian Ecolabel and passed it with flying colors. The criteria for obtaining or maintaining the ecolabel include a clear statement on education for sustainable development in educational programs. It also means that the nature park focuses on sustainability in a variety of ways and increases visitor awareness on the topic. Naturpark Sparbach is still the only nature park in Austria that is allowed to carry this certification.