|With its approx. 2.400 ha, the wilderness area Dürrenstein lies in the south-western part of Lower Austria in the northern Kalkalpen. The primary objective of this protected area, which is aiming at being recognised as Category I of the IUCN guidelines (Eastern part: Ia – strict nature reserve and Western part: Ib – wilderness area), is the sustainable protection of this region. However, as according to the said guidelines, human disturbance in the wilderness area must be minimised, yet educational opportunities (for Ia) and the well-being of visitors (for Ib) are part of the criteria for the mentioned categories, there could be potential conflicts between nature protection objectives and the activities resulting from an educational and recreational obligation (visitor management and guidance). As part of the LIFE project carried out for the establishment of the wilderness area, visitor surveys were made. They showed that the area around the Dürrenstein was mostly a regional recreation area. The number of visitors has remained widely the same in the last 50 years despite slight fluctuations. An increase in the level of popularity of the protected area, following the Category I recognition, could alter the situation. A possible consequence of a larger number of visitors would be the effect on habitats i.e. a disturbance of the wild animals living in the wilderness area. In particular hoofed game, red deer, deer and chamois but also rare birds such as capercaillie or black grouse could be affected. The result of increased disturbance is species extinction or in the case of hoofed game (forest)ecological damage, which cannot be tolerated in such a small wilderness area. In order to counteract the negative effects of a positive visitor development in the wilderness area, appropriate standards must be set for visitor management. For this, measures for visitor guidance should not only be applied inside the wilderness area, but also partly in its forefield. Only thus may the demands of nature protection on an effective visitor management be met. Therefore, basic – from the point of view of the protected area management, very moderate – principles were fixed for the wilderness area itself: • Visitor information on the protection objective • Monitoring of the development of the recreational use • Gentle guidance instead of orders (marked trails) • Discussion of arising utilisation conflicts with all parties concerned.