In past 200 years, the water and wetland habitats of the Danube region have undergone great change: dams have been constructed; flood protection introduction; navigation improved; agricultural and forestry activities intensified; and land drained. Large continuous flood areas have been reduced and divided by dykes, while numerous branches have been cut off from the main river course. This process resulted in stagnant water in river branches for most of the year, and several habitat types and species have declined, especially those dependent on river dynamics, flowing waters and fluctuating water levels.
The LIFE Danube floodplains project aims to restore the key natural habitats of Danube floodplains and to introduce sound sustainable management. Habitat restoration will be achieved by the improvement of water regime in the vast river branch system and by direct interventions to secure favourable conservation status of targeted habitats.
Specific objectives are to: Optimise water level and distribution of water within the Danube river branch system and in Danube floodplains; Restore the water regime of selected disturbed localities; Restore targeted habitat types and improve their conservation status; Increase biodiversity of floodplain forest habitats, production potential and ecosystem services of forest management; Improve the conservation status of the last remaining fragments of non-forest habitats within the project site; and Raise awareness of the importance of floodplain restoration, disseminate knowledge for replication and transfer results and best practices.
Expected results: Some 70 ha of the land acquired by purchase and long-term lease for restoration actions; Minimum of five technical objects created or reconstructed and the water regime of an area of 1 850 ha improved; Two major river branches restored on at least 4 500 m, and branches re-connected; Decrease of human disturbance on 135 ha; Four wetlands restored covering 37 ha; Native tree species represented in the repository of genetic resources, with 45 000 seedlings for reforestation grown and a gene pool established on 3.8 ha; Planting of 57 500 native tree species on an area of 45 ha; Invasive tree and plant species removed on 40 ha; Targeted habitat types restored and their conservation status improved on the area of 745.5 ha; Waste clean-up and removal of ammunition on 5 ha; 84 ha of grasslands restored and their regular management initiated; At least 150 pollard willows restored; Overall 200 pollard willows planted; Project web page in three languages; and Two two-day study visits for 30 people organised; guided excursions for 400 students, members of the public, teachers and guides; 20 five-days camps for a total of 240 children.