2014 European Riverprize Finalists

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PUBLISHED: 27 AUGUST 2014

Danube River, Transnational (DANUBEPARKS - Danube River Network of Protected Areas)

 

DANUBEPARKS has developed a strong network of Danube Protected Areas through a partnership based approach. This approach has helped to bridge some of the geographical and political divides that are inherent in managing a transboundary river.  Using this network to develop knowledge exchange activities broadened the geographic reach of the activities and increased outcomes across multiple networked sites.

 

With river dynamics being the basis for river habitat health, one focus of the DANUBEPARKS projects is river morphology. A Danube-wide survey of indicator species identified the need for conservation coupled with restoration. This resulted in numerous pilot projects being launched. Additionally, a DANUBEPARKS Strategy on Conservation and Navigation contributed to cross-sectorial cooperation, bringing together conservation experts and Danube waterway administrations.

 

Danube Protected Areas protect the most valuable sites in a common and coherent ecosystem. Riverine grassland and forest restoration were implemented and cross-border conservation concepts were elaborated to develop the Danube as a habitat corridor and inspiring lifeline for the new European macro-region. Conservation of flagship species is most illustrative of the need for a transnational approach in nature protection: animals such as the White-tailed Eagle are not limited by political border! Therefore, the DANUBEPARKS Eagle Action Plan, adopted by the Council of Europe, stimulated numerous conservation activities.

 

Nature education and nature tourism is vital for long-term preservation of natural assets, which is why joint capacity building and branding were also implemented with annual DANUBEPARKS nature festivals being one of the highlights of this program.

 

 

 

River Mur, Austria (Frieland Environmental Consulting Civil Engineers Ltd & Office of the Styrian Government - Department 14 water management, resources & sustainability)

 

The River Mur rises in the Radstädter Tauern and flows into the Drava in Croatia after a length of 453km, 298km are located in Styria (AT). Through the systematic river regulation, starting at the end of the 19th century, river loops, branches and floodplain forests were separated. Also the construction of hydro-power stations and embankments led to a bed-load deficit and to a loss of habitats. Nevertheless the Upper Mur is considered as one of the most ecologically valuable rivers of Austria, especially because of the natural reproduction for the Danube salmon.

 

The cross-border part of the River Mur has the second largest alluvial forest in Austria and comprises one of Europe´s most species-rich habitats. The main targets of the river management on River Mur are the restoration of the old structures and the recovering of the natural river habitats by reconnecting the last existing ones with the dynamic river-system. Added benefits from these activities are the improvement of the passive flood protection and the creation of leisure-time and nature facilities for the residents. In conjunction with these main activities, a regulation zone that excludes power plants will be set up and will ensure the sustainability of long-term project benefits.

 

 

 

Danube River, Slovakia (Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable Development / Bratislavské regionálne ochranárske zdru┼żenie)

 

The Regional Association for Nature Conservation and Sustainable development (BROZ) is a Non-Governmental Organisation that works on restoration activities of the Danube River in Slovakia. Activities are present along the entire 172 kilometres. The area known as the “inland Danube delta” has suffered many changes through the construction of flood-protection dikes and weirs, filling river side branches, cutting off meanders and oxbows, building the network of drainage channels from wetlands and cutting vast floodplain forests.

 

In the last century, efforts to tame the river have included the construction of a massive dam and hydroelectric power plant. As a result of this construction, the Danube was diverted into an artificial canal, the contact with side tributaries was interrupted and the natural water regime of natural flows and flooding was completely destroyed. Over the past five years BROZ has been able to restore eight large river branches and oxbows which are hundreds meters wide, and have restored over 270 hectares of wetlands and marshes. More than 63,000 trees have been planted on over 258 hectares of grasslands and pastures. Additionally, reed beds have been reintroduced and a management plan put in place for close to 138 hectares of land.

 

The end result of all of these efforts has been to contribute to improvement of feeding and nesting habitats of birds, spawning areas for fish and creating suitable habitats for amphibians, mammals and plants.

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