© viadonau / Zinner
Demonstration Site 1
Donau-Auen National Park
About the Site
Donau-Auen National Park is a unique region covering 93 square kilometres between Vienna and the Slovakian border around river km 1904. The park was founded in 1996 to protect this special area, which is the last remaining major wetland environment/floodplain in Central Europe.
The park is an area of high ecological value and importance, representing a complex diversity of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and habitat for a broad range of plant and animal species.
The river Danube, still characterised as 'Alpine' at this section, flows freely for 36 km through the park, constantly creating and recreating this rich wetland habitat through dynamically rising and falling water levels.
The area comprising the National Park has long been under intensive pressure from human intervention. Since flood protection levees were built in the late 1800s, a raft of subsequent interventions have been made, largely aimed at curbing the river's flooding capabilities and improving navigation.
The impacts of hydropower plants upstream are also visible on the river here, with associated disruption of sedimentation and river bed erosion. Floodplain disconnection, increasing flood and drought risk by climate change, plastic pollution, and decreases to fish biomass and diversity are also challenges facing this section of the river.
Despite these challenges, the Donau-Auen National Park represents a unique and rare opportunity to see river restoration in action.
To date, scientific research and practical measures in Donau-Auen National Park have focused on various elements of conservation and restoration, such as the reconnection of side channels and side arms that had been cut off from the main river; groyne removal; and restoration of river banks from 'riprap' hard-surfacing back to wide, natural gravel areas and steep river banks.
We will build on these efforts through the following series of measures:
Undertake in situ construction works, including restoration of 'Paradeis Island'
Deconstructing the hard stone revetment long the river banks
River dynamic processes will be restored, allowing formation of characteristic structures like natural river banks
Lateral connectivity between the main river, the side-branch system and floodplains will be increased for water, sediments and biota
Widening of the river channel will contribute to improved flood protection and counteract problematic deepening of the riverbed. Consequently, ecological framework conditions will be improved, improving ecosystem services
'Paradeis Island' is one of the most natural islands in the Upper Danube. Its restoration will contribute to strengthening the Danube WILDisland Habitat Corridor, as promoted by LIFE WILDisland project.
Together with a large-scale gravel insertion (up to 235,000m per year) the project will demonstrate how the connectivity for sediments and biota can be improved by the Win2 NBS restoration measures.
The local municipality hosts the National Park Centre and has its own National Park Advisory Board. Many citizens and the fishermen’s associations are committed to improve lateral connectivity to increase water in the floodplains and side-branch system.
This provides a good “breeding ground” for integrating communities, civil society, SMEs and stakeholders into the planning of the project and follow-up measures, project implementation and success monitoring.