Prügelsteg, © Horst Dolak

History and importance

At the end of the 19th century, peat which had been formed of dead plant material in the raised bogs over millennia acquired great importance as a natural resource for man. Peat extraction experienced a huge boom which arranged country-wide surveys of peatland, including the thickness of the peat layers, can prove. Extracted in so-called peat ditches, peat served as fuel in households but also on a larger scale. In addition, it was used as litter substitute in stables and extracted in the ditches for the use as a planting substrate. By 1902, there were in total 166 people harvesting peat in the district of Gmünd. To do that it was necessary to drain the bogs with the help of drainage ditches beforehand.

Hence Heidenreichsteiner Moor (“Gemeindeau“) has been severely harmed by peat extraction, having started back in 1885. Peat was harvested in large areas and the drainage ditches have been crossing the bog to this very day. The story goes that peat was harvested to a smaller extent until shortly after World War II.


  • 1979 – opening of the educational trail
  • 1981 – nature reserve “Gemeindeau“ regulation
  • 1989 – foundation of the Nature Park and Nature Park Association
  • 2005 - "Nature Park of the year" in Austria
  • 2011 – resolution of Heidenreichstein secondary school to cooperate with the Nature Park (Naturparkschule NNÖMS Heidenreichstein)
  • 2012 – completion and opening of the Nature Park Centre
  • 2019 – commitment of the municipal corporation to the Nature Park charter
  • 2021 - "Nature Park of the year" in Austria