Sulzbach valleys - Wilderness Area

In the middle of the Hohe Tauern, in the middle of Austria's largest national park, the Sulzbachtäler Wilderness Area was also internationally recognised in 2019 with the IUCN Category Ib, the second highest class, and included in the list of "World Class Nature Reserves".

As for each category, the IUCN formulates precise requirements and criteria for protected area category I as well. Within wilderness areas, it distinguishes between Category 1a (Strict Nature Reserve) and 1b (Wilderness Area), whereby protected areas in Category 1a are usually subject to a far-reaching ban on access and serve almost exclusively scientific research purposes. Category 1b protected areas, such as the Sulzbächer Wilderness Area, must orient their efforts towards the primary goal of "ecological integrity", whereby this must also be "preserved in the long term".

The permanent preservation of wilderness areas is intended to secure their protected status in perpetuity. A natural buffer zone is also crucial for the establishment of a wilderness area. And as is the case for 75% of the area in the national park, there is no intervention, neither guiding nor correcting.

Untersulzbach | © Holiday Region National Park Hohe Tauern

The Sulzbach Valleys - Wilderness Area covers a total area of 6,728 hectares, of which 40% is in the Lower Sulzbach Valley and 60% in the Upper Sulzbach Valley. Their buffer zone forms the territory of the national park, which means that the surrounding neighbourhood is also under special protection. Visitors to the Sulzbach valleys wilderness area in the municipality of Neukirchen am Großvenediger not only walk through all climate zones from Central Europe to the polar region, but also through all habitats in natural succession from the high montane to the nival stage. The highest point of the wilderness area is at 3,657 m, the summit of the Großvenediger. Both Tauern valleys, the Upper and Lower Sulzbach Valleys, are classic trough valleys formed by the glacier, which differ from each other mainly in the degree of development and accessibility.