Natural Gem

The natural gem Erlaufcanyon and the surrounding area not only allows the spread of common animal species and plant species of the Alpine foothills, but also for a number of so-called rare species. The contrast between the cool moist areas in the Erlaufcanyon and the dry heat and favored parts of conglomerate rocks and on the adjacent heathland and edge slopes provide the perfect habitats for rare species. These special habitats include the area known as the "heat island" around the Schlierwand (Hallerschlier) on the undercut slope of the Erlauf and their small Au and hillside areas at the so-called "Türkensturz". In this natural ensemble of different biotopes and habitats a specific diversity could develop itself in a relatively small space. Thus one finds here not only different kinds of rock, but also partly pannonian, heat-loving and common South European species. One example here is the largest dragonfly in Europe, the Cordulegaster heros, whose northwestern limit of total distribution points to the Large Erlauf. This species lives in the still intact source streams along with the heat beneficiary part of Erlauf. The Cordulegaster heros is seriously endangered. On the side of the EU it was rightly judged by the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive as II + IV-type. This means the state of Austria is responsible for securing the habitats.

This brief insight should serve to improve the knowledge of the species diversity and habitat diversity of the Erlaufcanyon. It is also a continuation of the initiative to raise awareness and appreciation started several years ago by the local community of Purgstall. The pleasure and interest in the diverse, natural and relaxing value in such habitats is to be preserved for future generations at the Erlaufschlucht. For more detailed information of the dynamic diversity of the natural jewel incoming interest is a prerequisite.
Purgstallers local faunist Prof. Franz Ressl’s (1924-2011) research about homeland and natural history research is to be noted as a pioneer in this sector.