Besides natural wood rejuvenation, numerous seedlings were brought to the Kaprun valley. On tours of inspection, reforestation spots were marked and divided into grids. Pegs of different colors were used to mark the type of tree that would be planted in that area; a red peg stood for a larch, for instance. In that grid, the team then planted 30 seedlings leaving enough free space in between each of them for further rejuvenation. A tough job for those who had to fight themselves through extremely steep areas with seedlings and tools.
Zandl explains: "Our company soon realized that this nature catastrophe had opened up the opportunity to create a forest that would better suit the valley's current requirements; a wood that would provide a stable ecosystem and be resistant to browsing thanks to ample food supply for red deer as well as sycamore and ash foliage. We also planned hibernation areas with feeding spots and warm spruce wood shelters for wintertime. This project was never about maximizing, but about optimizing for all involved parties, so foresting, farming, hunting and tourism. The reforestation project will be finished in 2023. Meanwhile, it has already proved successful: With the scientific assistance of BOKU Vienna, we found that by reacting so quickly, erosion control was reestablished in 50% of the areas in 2012. Today, we've reached almost 100%. During reforestation, scientists and practitioners started the three-year-long research project "Integral Red Deer Management" in order to find a way to best serve the interests of the parties concerned."
In sum, the two-decade-long reforestation project was a resounding success. And it has brought a unique natural spectacle to the High Tauern – with its broadleaves and larches that transform the valley of Kaprun into an "Indian summer" in fall.