Gregor Schörg © Christian Schörg

The primeval forest Rothwald has existed for thousands of years. It observed the development of Lower Austria over periods of time that are hardly comprehensible to us humans. The wilderness area Dürrenstein-Lassingtal with its untouched natural spaces is an emotional primordial ground of our sense of home. It was particularly the golden age of iron processing with its intensive use of wood that contributed significantly to the economic upswing of Lower Austria. The primeval forest Rothwald shows us how our homeland has been shaped by time and nature.

The border area between Styria and Lower Austria has a varied history. The primeval forests of the whole of Central Europe were exploited so heavily over the centuries that by the end of the 19th century they had shrunk to around 400 hectares. Albert Rothschild bought the forest areas around Gaming and Göstling/Ybbs with the Rothwald in the middle in 1875. As a visionary nature romantic, he recognised the importance of this primeval forest remnant, which had remained untouched by humans since the last Ice Age. Against the spirit of the times, Albert Rothschild forbade his foresters to use this forest. In agreement with the Rothschild family, the protected area was gradually extended from 1988 onwards. In 1942 it was placed under protection, and in 2001 the wilderness area Dürrenstein-Lassingtal was established with an area of 1152 hectares. By 2021, another 7000 hectares could be incorporated into the wilderness area. An immensely important step towards the preservation of our nature, which can develop here undisturbed by humans. An unparalleled project for the future. In 2017, the Wilderness Area was declared Austria’s first UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.

Gregor Schörg grew up, so to speak, with the camera in his hand at the side of his photographer father Christian Schörg. Four years ago, he caught drone fever, a passion that earned him 2nd place in the Federal Apprentice Competition for Young Photographers 2021. Reason enough for the festival to entrust Schörg Junior with the task of photographing something that is so worthy of protection that it should almost never be entered, the Dürrenstein-Lassingtal wilderness area. The ideal case for drone photography. It is „the endless perspective possibilities“ that fascinate Gregor Schörg and which he uses to create a two-part visual monument to the wilderness area: Winter in the Wilderness Area was the theme at the 2022 festival. Spring, summer and autumn will be shown in 2023.

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