The Weitental in Styria is an absolute must for everyone who loves nature. Only a 20-minute walk from the city center of Bruck, the Weitental invites you to a wide variety of activities. At the entrance to the valley, the Weitenbach greets visitors with its pleasant splash. If you follow the stream, it leads past the JUFA Natur-Hotel and the nature conservation center to the Kalte Quelle. The Weitental is ideal for a relaxing walk or an invigorating mountain bike tour. The path is also suitable for runners and hikers. Especially brave adventurers can go on a tour of discovery in the adjacent forest at any time. For cooling off on hot days or just to refresh your feet after a long hike, visitors will find a Kneipp pool right on the way.
The nature conservation center in the Weitental near Bruck an der Mur was set up in 1977 as a rescue station for protected wild animals that have had an accident. Young, injured or confiscated wild animals are taken in here. Whenever possible, attempts are made to release these animals back into their natural habitat. Permanently injured or malformed species can, however, remain in the station. There are an average of 150 protected animals at the station, in particular species that have been confiscated by the state of Styria and those who are permanently injured and can no longer be released into the wild. Here, attempts are made to ensure that the animals are housed appropriately in so-called large aviaries.
Taking into account the living habits and needs of the animals, consideration was given to the construction of the aviary and the interior design. In this way, they can also be shown to visitors and thus educational and awareness-raising work on the subject of species protection can be carried out.
As already mentioned, today's Bruck an der Mur nature conservation center was brought into being in 1977 by 4 biology students. The focus at that time was the construction of an owl and raptor station for research and breeding purposes, as well as biotope protection. For a short time, the biological station at that time also bore the title “Konrad Lorenz Institute”. When Siegfried Prinz took over the management in 1990, the station was significantly enlarged through the construction of spacious aviaries and enclosures. In this new concept, consideration was given to the fact that in future the nature conservation center should function as a reception station for protected animal species in accordance with national and international species protection agreements. The center was also made accessible to the public.
In 1995, the sponsoring association for the promotion of the nature conservation center was brought into being, in which the state of Styria and the city of Bruck an der Mur agreed to support the operation and maintenance of the center on a sustainable basis.
In 1995 the city of Bruck an der Mur also received the state environmental award for the Weitental project and in 1996 the nature conservation center received the environmental award of the city of Bruck an der Mur in 2001 the next step in promoting public relations work began with the establishment of a petting zoo and various supporting programs.
In the course of the state exhibition in Bruck an der Mur in 2006, all infrastructures were newly built or adapted. The most modern aviaries and enclosures, educational pavilions as well as a seminar and adventure room are now available on 40,000 m2 for the use of the various tasks.
In 2008, the nature conservation center Bruck an der Mur was commissioned by the state of Styria to implement the awareness-raising project “Luchsin der Steiermark”. In the course of the project, a symposium was held with participants and speakers from Austria, Germany and Italy, an overview of the Central European lynx population was created, perspectives for a future positive development of the lynx population were discussed and strategies for the future of the lynx were discussed with the involvement of all interest groups in terms of Developed public awareness of the subject of the lynx.
Because of these achievements, the Ministry of Life also recognized it as a scientific institution in 2009. In 2010, as part of the Leader funding program, the BIG Bruck / Mur project management agency commissioned the nature conservation center to develop the “Secrets of the Forest” project. The aim was to create a more realistic access to the processes in nature and to convey to people life in harmony with nature. In order to meet the trend towards forest kindergartens, forest schools, offers such as nature experience weeks or wilderness seminars in Upper Styria, new educational modules on the topic of "secrets of the forest" were developed in the Brucker Weitental, using the latest technologies (so-called "cybertracker") with traditional teaching methods get connected. In order to ensure the sustainability of the existing educational content or to develop it further, to strengthen the ability to cooperate with other educational institutions and, above all, to introduce the basic ethical idea into teaching, the educational offerings at the nature conservation center were institutionalized in 2011 by an academy for nature and ethics.
The academy is intended to contribute to the fact that the relationship to nature and the wilderness is increasingly anchored in the consciousness of the population. The focus is on a well-founded and holistic transfer of knowledge, the demonstration of natural relationships and the experience of modes of action between nature and people. In this way, participants should be encouraged to act responsibly in and with nature from an ethical point of view.