LIFE WILDisland – Danube Wild Island Habitat Corridor
Duration of the project:
1. 9. 2021. – 31. 8. 2027.
Nationalpark Donau-Auen GmbH (Austria)
Alsó-Duna-völgyi Vízügyi Igazgatóság / Lower Danube Valley Water Directorate (aduvizig), Hungary, Bratislavské regionálne ochranárske združenie (BROZ), Slovakia, Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority (DDBRA), Romania, Duna-Dráva Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság (DDNPD), Hungary, Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság (DINPI), Hungary, Fertő Hanság Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság (FHNPD), Hungary, Hrvatske šume d.o.o. (HR Forests), Javna ustanova “Park prirode Kopački rit” (JUUP), Persina Nature Park Directorate (PNPD), Bulgaria, Regia Naționala A Padurilor Romsilva Ra – Sucursala Direcția (Romsilva), Romania, Javno preduzeće “Vojvodinašume” (Vsume), Serbia, Uniper Kraftwerke GmbH (Uniper) Germany, via donau – Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH (viadonau), Austria, VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH (Verbund), Austria
The Danube River is a hub of biodiversity and an essential lifeline for Europe. The large number of Natura 2000 sites (over 100 on the Danube and 230 sites along its course) shows Europe’s commitment to preserve this natural heritage. Over 2 000 plant and 5 000 animal species live in or by the Danube’s waters. Human intervention has resulted in the loss of around 90% of Europe’s riparian zones in the past century. Beside agriculture, the hydromorphological alteration of rivers have had the most negative effects on nature (as reported in Habitats Directive, Article 17). This points to the enormous importance of a Danube ecological corridor. Danube islands are considered flagship sites for the preservation of intact riverine habitats and make up over one-third of alluvial forests (habitat type 91E0*) surface area in Danube Natura 2000 sites.
The LIFE WILDisland project aims to conserve the priority EU Habitats Directive habitat type 91E0* (‘Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior’) by way of coordinated, Danube-wide conservation and restoration actions for the Danube islands.
The project has the following main objectives:
- Improving the conservation status of the priority habitat 91E0* along the entire course of the Danube;
- Restoring natural processes and river dynamics to preserve vital Danube islands as key 91E0* sites;
- Implementing best-practice measures to transform inland waterway infrastructure into Green Infrastructure;
- Improving conditions in 91E0* stands by best practice forest management, including control of IAS;
- Increasing the coherence of the Danube Wild Island Habitat Corridor by restoration of islands in the sections of the Danube significantly altered by hydropower;
- Strengthening ecological connectivity and coherence of the Natura 2000 network along the Danube River by establishing the Danube-wide conservation concept;
- Anchoring wilderness in riverine Natura 2000 sites through the preservation of pristine islands and primeval stands, and promoting non-intervention management;
- Building bridges between EU policy and local agendas;
- Using a multilateral approach to maximise both added value for the EU and impact on relevant EU policies.
Together with transnational stakeholders, the project intends to develop a conservation strategy and prepare the multilateral ‘WILDisland RAMSAR Regional Initiative’, with new (strictly) protected areas on 196.7 ha. The project will deliver a best-practice example for transnational cooperation. Coordinated actions in nine protected areas, covering 39 Natura 2000 sites, will increase the coherence of the Natura 2000 network along the world’s most international river, and contribute to the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive by counteracting fragmentation of alluvial forest (91E0*) sites.
- Best practice island restoration in the Danube section altered by hydropower (Upper Danube) and restoration of alluvial forests on 102 ha;
- Improvement of hydro-morphology for habitat 91E0* through the optimisation of navigation infrastructure on 437 ha;
- Conservation of habitat 91E0* on Danube islands by hydrology improvement and sediment management (Middle and Lower Danube) on 376 ha; and
- Improvement of habitat type 91E0* by forest management on 352 ha.