Pasturing, mowing, cutting reed and water retention – these are the main tasks of habitat management in the National Park. These measures are taken to preserve the cultural landscape and its biodiversity that has developed over centuries. Habitat management always considers nature conservancy-related topics; cultivation does not aim at profitability but is based on accompanying research.
As it is the case in most of the European National Parks, different parts of the cultural landscape of the Neusiedler See region are especially valuable. The open steppe-like landscape of the Seewinkel is very much influenced by human impact; clearing of wood, hay- making, pasturing and stepwise drainage have formed the landscape over centuries.
If untouched, those man-made habitats would soon be overgrown with bushes, woods or reed. To maintain or reconstruct these ecosystems, unique in Austria, is the goal of the National Park’s habitat management.
The population in Seewinkel had to cope with alternating wet and dry periods. Drainage made it possible to use larger areas for intensive agriculture. Unfortunately, this destroyed precious habitats.
With the intensification and mechanisation of agriculture, the situation changed dramatically: fields and vineyards evolved and pushed back breeding and feeding areas, many plants disappeared. The decline of livestock farming in the 1960ies and 1970ies reduced the demand for hay and pasture land, which in turn, allowed high and dense vegetation (reed) – mainly close to the lake and the saline lakes (Lacken )- to grow.
Habitat management within the Conservation Zone of the National Park aims at preserving and improving the biotope quality in cultivated areas. Findings of current research projects are taken into account as well as knowledge from traditional, extensive agriculture.
Since the formation of the National Park, these measures have helped to reestablish many precious habitats for flora and fauna in several parts of the park. Pasturing and livestock-breeding projects are having a positive effect on visitor direction: Grey cattle, Mangaliza-pigs, White donkeys, and Przewalski-Horses are a very popular photo motif, attracting special visitor groups, and thus other sensitive parts of the park are left in peace.