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Data & Figures

Riverine Wetlands National Park, Category II, recognized by the IUCN. Total area currently over 9,600 hectares; of these, approx. 65% is riparian forest, 15% meadow, and approx. 20% is covered by water. Expansion of area is planned.

Fundamental

With over 9,600 hectares area, the Donau-Auen National Park protects the last remaining major wetland environment in Central Europe. For a distance of just over 36 km, the Danube flows freely and is the lifeline of the national park. The dynamic rise and fall of water levels - sometimes up to 7 meters - mean that the wetlands landscape is constantly recreated and reformed. In this way, the flow of the Danube creates habitats for a large number of plants and animals.

With the founding of the Donau-Auen National Park in 1996, this area was made an international refuge for posterity. Here, an ecosystem can blossom free of commercial constraints, thus guaranteeing that future generations may also experience first hand its power and beauty.

The Donau-Auen National Park extends from Vienna all the way to the mouth of the March River (also called Morava) on the border to Slovakia. Thirty-eight kilometres long, at its widest point the Danube measures only around 4 km; the wetlands are only found directly on the Danube. To the north of the national park are the broad plains of the Marchfeld. To the south, the boundary is formed by the breakline of the Vienna Basin. The Lobau area has always been a popular recreational area, especially for the Viennese.

Download the overview map of the National Park

The Lobau area has always been a popular recreational area, especially for the Viennese. Running through the national park are both the long-distance rambling trail 07 and the Danube Cycling Path, which comes from Passau and continues to Hungary via Hainburg.

The protected area can be freely visited for walking, hiking, cycling etc., no entrance fee is charged. However, the rules of conduct must be observed: Hiking trails may not be left, there are some routes approved for cycling, as well as waters that may be navigated by non-motorised boats.

A wide-ranging visitor programme with guided hikes, canoe and rubber dinghy tours, events, etc. also offers many opportunities to explore the national park in the company of national park rangers for a fee and to learn interesting facts.

Functions

  • A "green ribbon" connecting the conurbations of Vienna and Bratislava;

  • The largest complete, (near) ecologically intact natural riverine environment of its kind in Central Europe;

  • Characterised by the nearly free-flowing Danube, which here retains the character of an alpine stream;

  • An interplay of ecosystems which exhibit an enormous variety of habitats, plant and animal species;

  • Home and refuge to many endangered plant and animal species;

  • Impresses with its great natural beauty;

  • Natural retention area for floodwaters;

  • Guarantee for high-quality drinking water resources;

  • So-called "green lung" and climactic regulator for the region;

  • Recreational area for the population

Great variety of habitats

  • Flow of the Danube

  • Oxbow lakes and side arms; sloughs and all types of bodies of water

  • Gravel banks on islands and shores

  • Flat banks with siltation and transitions from water to land

  • Steep riverbanks

  • Riparian forests (softwood and hardwood) and slope forests

  • Meadows and xeric habitats

Enormous variety of species

  • More than 800 kinds of vascular plants

  • More than 30 mammalian species, 100 breeding bird species, 8 reptilian and 13 amphibian species, and around 60 species of fish

  • An abundance of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates

Conservation Provisions

  • 1978 Designation of the Lobau as a nature protection zone (full and partial conservation area; nature preserve)

  • 1978 Declaration of the Lower Lobau as UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (no longer in force)

  • 1979 Danube-March-Thaya wetlands are declared to be a nature preserve

  • 1983 Danube-March wetlands and the Lower Lobau are designated Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention

  • 1996 Designation of Danube wetlands as Donau-Auen National Park

  • 1997 Designation as Category II of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources): nature reserve which should be administered primarily for the protection of ecosystems and for recreational purposes

  • 2004 Donau-Auen National Park (Viennese part): designation as Natura 2000 according to Birds and Flora-Fauna-Habitats Directive

  • 2007: Donau-Auen National Park (Viennese part): designation as European Nature Reserve (Europaschutzgebiet)

  • 2007: Donau-Auen östlich von Wien (Lower Austria): designation as Natura 2000 / European Nature Reserve according to Birds Directive

  • 2007: Donau-Auen östlich von Wien (Lower Austria): designation as Natura 2000 / European Nature Reserve according to Flora-Fauna-Habitats Directive Directive

Tasks and Aims

Extracts from the agreement according to Article 15a of the federal constitution ("National Park Law")

  • Work in accordance with the IUCN criteria in consideration of acceptance by the general population

  • Advancement and maintenance of this area as a gem of nature and one of both national and international importance

  • Preservation of the representative landscapes of the area as well as wildlife and plant ecosystems, including their respective habitats

  • Utilisation of the opportunities for using the area for the purpose of education, recreation, science and research

  • Safeguarding of groundwater levels in the Danube wetlands

According to international criteria, a national park serves to:

  • Protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for future generations

  • Exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area

  • Provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible

Zoning the Donau-Auen National Park

Nature Zones

  • No commercial usage

  • No interference with nature, the natural equilibrium or the landscape

  • Temporary management programmes undertaken to promote natural developments

Nature Zones with Mangement Programmes

  • No interference except for measures which serve conservation objectives (e.g. mowing meadows)

Außenzone

  • Special areas (e.g. waterways, fields, flood protection dams)

  • Tourism and administration