Combined mountain and glacier formation and weathering formed the Enns Valley over millions of years. In a few centuries man changed the landscape through clearing, draining and building.
The continual interaction of nature and culture has characterised the face of our valley.
Agriculture in the Enns Valley
Up until the mid-20th century, the meadows of the Enns Valley were often flooded, therefore only yielding low quantities of poor-quality hay. After
regulating the River Enns and draining the valley floor, however, even cereal crops were able to be cultivated in particularly favourable places.
Flowing waters, riparian forests
Areas occasionally flooded by streams and rivers are known as flood plains. In the higher bank zones riparian forests were able to grow. Despite human interventions, parts of these forests on the Enns have been preserved.
Standing waters, lakes, lakesides
Numerous plants have developed strategies to hold their own in the water. They live submerged or on the water surface, rooted or swim freely. The shallow banks are mostly overgrown with reeds.
The corncrake was once a widespread breeding bird found in lowland pastures and river valleys. Due to a loss of its natural habitat, it is today threatened with extinction.
Wet meadows and litter-meadows
These meadows were created after clearing carr woodland or by draining the fens. They are only cut once in the autumn which guarantees the existence of numerous wetland plant species. The hay that is poor in nutrients is used as stable spread.
Fens and bogs
Where groundwater almost reaches the surface of the earth, fens are usually formed. Parts of plants do not decom-pose completely thus causing peat formation. The peat bodies of bogs are lentil shaped and domed. As opposed to fens, the roots of the plants can no longer reach the groundwater.
Different types of forest developed in the Enns Valley depending on the soil conditions. Beech, spruce and pine particularly like taking root on chalk. Spruce and pine forests grow predominantly on the siliceous bedrock of the Tauern slopes of the valley. In higher areas, larch trees are mainly found alongside spruces.
Up to a tree line of about 1900 to 2000 m altitude, the forests become ever sparser. Swiss pine and dwarf pine characterise the alpine pasture region.
Intensive alpine pasture cultivation has opened up existing forest cultures.
Grassland and dwarf-shrub heath above the tree line
Above the tree line only dwarf shrubs, herbal plants, algae and lichen are able to survive. The reason for this is the barren ground and the rough, stormy climate.
Rock and scree fields of the summit region
Plant rootage is possible even in the smallest of cracks in rocks and scree slopes. On the constantly moving scree slopes, flowering plants or moss can be found. On the bare rock, only algae and lichen thrive.
Rock strata north and south of the Enns
The Enns Valley is situated on an extensive east-west fault line of the earth’s crust. It divides the morphologically contrasting rock formations of the Limestone Alps in the north from the slate and gneiss of the Lower Tauern in the south. The fossils found in the rock strata of the Northern Limestone Alps prove that they were formed in sea basins. The depth of the sea has changed constantly over millions of years. Ammonites are a sign of deep water, coral, and sea lilies point to shallow water bathed in light. The slate and gneiss of the greywacke zone and the Lower Tauern (Central Alps) south of the Enns were created under great pressure and temperatures from sand and clay deposits. In the process beautiful
minerals were formed in some places.