The Vienna Woods may be defined as that group of hills bounded by the rivers Triesting, Gölsen, Traisen and Danube, and is a favourite outdoor destination for the densely-populated area around Vienna .
The mountain ranges of the Vienna Woods are the transition between the Eastern Alps and the Carpathians, separated by the Danube and some tectonic lines near to Vienna. Its north is part of the Alps' sandstone zone, while its south is part of the Northern Limestone Alps. In the east, its border is the thermal line, which forms a geological break line to the Viennese Basin. The forest in the north consists largely of beeches, oaks and hornbeams, whereas in the south conifers, mostly pines and firs add to the botanical mix. The Föhrenberge (Pine Mountains) natural park is in the latter region.
The highest elevation in the Vienna Woods is Schöpfl at 893 m above sea level, the location of the Leopold Figl observatory. Even though the Vienna Woods is a protected landscape, it is threatened by urban sprawl. It is an important recreational area. The Lainzer Tiergarten (an extensive park populated by wild boar and other woodland animals) and the Schwarzenbergpark were created on the territory of the city of Vienna during the 19th century.
The Vienna Woods has probably been populated since the 8th century. Under the influence of the Avars, a Slavic population settled here after the Völkerwanderung, which may account for village names such as Döbling, Liesing or Gablitz. The Vienna Woods was a princely hunting ground, but beginning with the 16th century, it gained importance also for forestry. From 1840 onwards, the industrial development encouraged increased settlement of the area. In 1870, plans were brought forward to mostly clear the forest, but this caused widespread public resistance, in which Josef Schöffel was one of the most important figures.