Accessible nature parks, is that possible? Yes! And they are no longer a rarity today.
Whether provinces, municipalities or private associations. All have recognized that accessible offers lead to an increase in visitors to nature parks.
In October the conference “Accessible offers in nature parks” presented some great examples. Organized by the umbrella organization of Austrian nature parks, the conference offered practical tips and initiatives from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
The cross-border Geschriebenstein-Írottkő Nature Park offers more than 500 km of marked hiking trails, various nature trails and an accessible tree top walk.
But that’s not all:
An accessible tower with a 22-meter-high bird aviary was built in the forest behind the Rechnitz swimming lake. On the approx. 350 meter long walk around the huge bird aviary, visitors can observe up close native and endangered species.
Another highlight is the large labyrinth complex, which is also suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. Children in wheelchairs are delighted with the wheelchair accessible sandbox.
We find: Impressive, what is possible for accessible nature parks!
With its steep, rocky terrain, the Mürzer Oberland Nature Park faced special challenges in terms of accessibility.
But good will, creativity and personal commitment created impressive results:
Already at the starting point, in Neuberg an der Mürz, the Schenkfeld Promenade near the monastery can be easily managed even with a wheelchair.
The same applies to the low barrier circular hiking trail “im Tyrol”, the first part of the adventure trail “klimawandeln” and the Museum Montanarum.
The Forest of the Senses, which arose from a private initiative, is a showcase project.
Barbara Holzer, forest and outdoor educator, is an expert in interdisciplinary early intervention and clinically oriented psychomotricity. With this knowledge she created the Forest of the Senses. There visitors find experiences for hearing, touching, smelling, feeling and moving. All visitors ,with and without disabilities.
We find: Encouraging, how accessible nature parks can be created without huge budgets!
The Lower Austrian Eisenwurzen Nature Park owes its further development primarily to residents of the community of Hollenstein.
As the association “Nature park Lower Austrian Eisenwurzen” they took care of offers in the nature park. And created hiking trails, attractions suitable for children, the nature park house in a historic hammer and many offers for nature education.
With accessibility being in focus:
Circular hikes on forest roads that are suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
All information boards on the trails and sights include audio format. This makes the information accessible even to those who cannot read.
The Promau at 800 m above sea level is considered the heart of the nature park. There is a playground, a historic wood workers hut AND:
An accessible, sparkling clean organic toilet made of wood!
We find: Great, how smart people make accessible nature parks possible with inclusive, clever solutions!
The diversity of river landscape, dry grasslands, hillside meadows, near-natural forests, wine terraces and orchards are not only ecologically significant, but also make the Jauerling-Wachau Nature Park particularly attractive. Here, in the touristically well developed Wachau, there are accessible accommodations and restaurants for every taste.
Again, the active participation of the population led to offers and projects enhancing nature experiences. We especially like accessible viewing platform Braunegg:
At 911 m above sea level, you can enjoy the fantastic panoramic view from the mountains Schneeberg, Ötscher and Traunstein to the southern edge of the Waldviertel plateau and the Jauerling.
The viewing platform is covered and accessible. A wheelchair-accessible toilet and a children’s playground complete the offer.
We find: Nice that accessible nature parks focus on inclusion!