Austria's National Parks occupy a special place within nature conservation policy. They are not only important to Austria, but rather are of vital international interest. The ecologically most treasured regions of Austria have been declared national parks. At present, there are six national parks with a total area of 2,350 sq. km, or around 3% of the total area of Austria. The following criteria have been applied in the selection of national parks: size; degree to which the ecosystem is representative; ownership of area; feasibility.
Development of the Austrian national park system commenced in 1971 with the so-called "Heiligenblut Agreement" in which the three provinces Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol decided to establish the Hohe Tauern National Park.
The national park administrations provide infrastructure and experiential programmes for visitors, establish educational facilities, initiate conservation and research projects, and carry out public relations work. All activities are laid down in management plans for the medium-term.