Winter Forest, © Niederösterreich Werbung

A homage to Lower Austria’s trees

To be in the fresh air among the tall, small, wide and narrow, gnarled or dead straight wooden structures inspires the mind.

Anyone who is out and about in nature feels it instinctively: The wood does you good! The diverse impressions on the senses and the smell of pine needles alone have a special effect on the body and mind. So it is high time to leave everyday life at the edge of the woods and enter the “wellness world forest” with full commitment and attention.

Roots and creativity

Mystical places of power in northern Lower Austria, natural meadow landscapes south of the Danube and densely wooded hill ranges right outside the gates of a metropolis: The woods of Lower Austria are not just natural climatic health resorts, they also cover over 40% of the total area of the country - some communities are even among the most wooded in Austria. The deciduous and coniferous trees, such as spruce, fir, beech, birch and many other native trees, are used as a renewable source of raw materials for the wood and paper industry and are the workplaces of hunters and foresters. All of this makes the heart of the Lower Austrian wood landscape as vital as it is productive for people and animals at any time of the year.

Wellness from head to toe

Based on scientific knowledge, we now know that an extended visit or walk in the woods has a health-promoting effect - whether it is neatly reforested or wild and unspoiled is irrelevant. British researchers have found out that even the essential oils from the scent of conifers (terpenes) and just the sight of woods calm the nervous system, slow the heartbeat and lower blood pressure. Shinrin Yoku, or “forest bathing”, has a long tradition in Japan and is an integral part of preventative health care on medical advice. With the goal of inner serenity and a healthy cell cure, trees are hugged, moss and leaves crossed barefoot and conscious breathing celebrated. In the meantime, this valuable knowledge has also reached us: The more consciously we get involved in the forest, the more healing it is on the human organism.

Superpowers that work

Where we perceive peace and quiet in relaxation, a German forester discovered that trees actually communicate with each other in a variety of ways. We can neither see nor hear them, but maybe just about smell them. Because an essential component of their messenger substances, which are sent into the air, are the terpenes that are good for us. Even underground, countless small electrical impulses are exchanged between the tree roots in order to warn each other, for example, in threatening situations, such as pests or extreme heat. As an oasis of fresh air and a vital component of the global climate, one hectare of mixed forest filters one tonne of CO2. With every deep breath of the clean forest air, we take in oxygen directly from the “source” of the tree.  A regular visit to the forest is not only a change of scenery for stressed minds, but healthy relaxation for body and soul.

Noise-free and rich in spirit

Countless fairy tales from your own childhood, including legends and characters such as tree spirits, witches and mythical creatures, give the myth of the forest a very special magical attraction. Winter has frozen brooks and the snow on the trees, creating bizarre icicles and sculptures. Glittering white frost adorns the faded grasses and bare deciduous trees with icy flowers - super romantic! The view upwards is framed by branches reaching up to the sky, a thick, soft blanket of snow adorns the fir trees dreamily like icing and the forest floor looks like a heavenly sea of clouds. And with that, the “green lungs” of Lower Austria become the epitome of a winter wonderland.

Creative treasure trove on a forest safari

Young and old alike will enjoy the natural materials with which wonderful craft ideas can come to fruition.

Tips from the editor: Create a mobile from small branches and attach objects you find, like cones, stones, acorns, lichen, pieces of bark or dry leaves with a thin thread. It can be expanded as required and is a great eye-catcher for the “treasures of the forest”

Nature comes a little closer when the paw and hoof prints of the forest dwellers become visible in the snow. If we are very quiet, wild animals that are not currently hibernating may also be observed eating: Tits, jays, woodpeckers, deer and now and then a hare hops past. Could a wild boar family have rummaged through the frozen ground in search of something to eat? In winter, the chances of spotting one of the animals are particularly high near feeding troughs. No television programme in the world provides such a spectacle.

Please note: When observing wild animals you should always respect the habitat of the forest dwellers and not leave the given routes, otherwise you could frighten and scare the animals away. Dogs must always be on a lead!