Just how important the Network of Protected Areas along the Danube can be for nature conservation in Europe can be seen by the successful collaboration of the early years as well as its naming as a “flagship project” by the EUSDR, or EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Thus the network of protected areas will continue what they have begun in the form of the DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0 project.
Building on existing strategies and action plans, Danube-wide nature conservation measures have been implemented. The European Territorial Cooperation SEE (South East Europe) programme provided co-funding means of €2.2 million during the period October 2012 to September 2014.
Flagship Species Protection – Black Poplar and White-tailed Eagle
Among other activities, the Danube-wide survey of important Black Poplar populations as well as the protection of outstanding individual specimens have been essential in promoting the health of this flagship species of dynamic riparian forests. In order to preserve the genetic variability of the Black Poplar, genetic and morphological analyses were carried out and pilot reforestation projects were implemented.
Building on the successful “Action Plan for the Conservation of the White-tailed Eagle”, coordinated and Danube-wide conservation measures have been drawn up. The first Danube-wide White-tailed Eagle winter census featured the active inclusion of the general public in order to heighten awareness of the species.
River Morphology and Dynamics
The Danube-wide monitoring of two indicator species for dynamic riverine habitats, the Little-ringed Plover and the Sand Martin, was repeated as part of the Joint Danube Survey. As led by the ICPDR, this cooperation signals increased political significance for the topic.
The protected areas have also drafted an action plan for the revitalisation and protection of dynamic riverine habitats. In addition to the planning of model river revitalisation measures, this Danube-wide concept also includes conservation measures for the “wild” Danube islands which are strongly impacted by natural river dynamics.
To improve the visitors’ experience at DANUBEPARKS, a cornerstone has been set in Nature Tourism: With the involvement of all Protected Areas, the establishment of a joint visitors centre in proximity to Budapest has been planned. Furthermore, Quality Criteria’s for Tourism Offers in Protected Areas have been developed and should result in the improvement of visitors’ offers.
How many visitors can be carried by a Protected Area without bringing negative impacts to the eco system? A study on carrying capacity answers this question for the Danube Delta and the Danube Riparian Forest at Neuburg – Ingolstadt.