The three main tasks of Austrian national parks are: conservation of nature, environmental education and restoration for visitors. Further, national parks could contribute regional development and sustainability. The contribution is aimed at presenting the design and the process of a project at the National Park Thayatal (NPTT) with respect to restoration and sustainable development.

The project was characterized by a participatory, transdisciplinary approach. The main objectives were researching restoration, teaching environmental psychology, and transforming research into practice. Attention Restoration Theory (ART), perceived restorativeness, the concepts of mindfulness and connectedness with nature, as well as research on favourite places built the underlying theoretical basis. Students of environmental psychology at the University of Vienna, staff members of the Medical University of Vienna (further called visitors) and staff members of the NPTT contributed to the project. It took place between March and November 2012. The project design comprised of eight consecutive steps

1) A field visit was aimed at coordinating the project outline with the management of the NPTT, becoming familiar with the location and conducting a photo-documentation for further use. Preparing for the next step, staff members explored and documented their most preferred places for restoration within the NPTT.

2) Workshop 1 was aimed at discussing the characteristics of the staffs’ favourite places, to fix the sites and the procedure for the planned research expedition.

3) A research expedition was aimed at exploring the restorative potential of four preselected sites within the park (outlook on a mixed built and natural scene, wind breakage, beak of rock, river bank). Visitors (n=37) completed measures of perceived restorativeness, connectedness with nature, connectedness with NPTT, and mindfulness. The different locations all scored quite high on perceived restorativeness. A pre-post comparison revealed higher levels of mindfulness and connectedness with the NPTT after the visit.

4) Workshop 2 was aimed at presenting results of the prior steps. Beyond that we considered the findings together with the staff focusing on promoting restoration of visitors during guided tours.

5) Workshop 3 was aimed at practicing in the field. An outdoor training via role-play focusing on restoration was performed by the rangers.

6) A transdisciplinary dialogue was aimed at summarizing the process and the findings of the project together with the management.

7) Public presentation and teaching: The seventh step was aimed at presenting and discussing the outcomes of the project with the public. And, teaching environmental psychology at the University of Vienna.

8) Publication: The eighth step was aimed at disseminating findings via presentation at scientific conferences and publication.

Steps 1) to 7) of the project were successfully completed. Step 8) is still ongoing in different contexts. For example, the project design was adapted in order to focus on restoration as well as sustainable development. Students of the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum took part in a course to create a sustainability path in line with the concept of restorative environments. We discuss the potential of the project with respect to research, education and regional sustainable development.