With this project, conducted by ETL in cooperation with ECTIL and Nationalparks Austria, Ernst Karner (ETL, ECTIL and Vienna University) examines the liability for trees and forests, which in recent years – especially with regard to the protection of the environment and combatting the climate crisis – has increasingly come into focus.

Through a differentiated tree hazard management, the focus of the study is especially on the conflicting objectives in the national park laws – namely, on the one hand, the preservation of valuable nature conservation landscapes as untouched as possible and, on the other hand, the educational purpose and the terrainistic objectives (which also require certain safeguarding measures) – which are to be reconciled with each other as optimally as possible.

This study consists of two parts: on the one hand, a concept from an arboristic point of view elaborated by Karoline Zsak, a leading employee of the Nationalparks Donau-Auen, and, on the other, a comprehensive legal appraisal of this concept by Ernst Karner.

In addition to the study just described, other projects have been initiated. The ‘Leitfaden Baummanagement’ of the municipality of Vienna is to be mentioned. Furthermore, interdisciplinary symposia were held in Hainburg in 2019 and in Traunkirchen in 2021 to develop practical guidelines.  In addition, the Federal Ministry of Justice has initiated a legislative project to examine in greater detail whether a separate legal regulation on the liability of tree owners is advisable under general tort law. In this context, a preliminary draft for a liability law amendment act was prepared and further developed in a ministerial working group.

Ernst Karner is, and was, more intensively involved in all these projects. While especially the results from the symposia in Hainburg and Traunkirchen were made known in the corresponding publications (Stabentheiner/Büchl-Krammerstätter, Kriterien für eine differenzierte Baumhaftung 2020), this study was made available to a wider audience together with Nationalparks Austria in a German-language publication:


Baumgefahren-Management in Österreichs Nationalparks

by Ernst Karner and Karoline Zsak
Jan Sramek Verlag, Wien
Hardcover. ISBN 978-3-7097-0322-9
2023, approx 150 pp






Project leader:

  • Ernst Karner

Project assistant:

  • Samuel Loibl

Partner institutions: