Case study:Restoration and fish migration enhancement in the Wachau Valley
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- 1 Project overview
- 2 Image gallery
- 3 Catchment and subcatchment
- 4 Site
- 5 Project background
- 6 Reasons for river restoration
- 7 Measures
- 8 Monitoring
- 9 Additional documents and videos
- 10 Additional links and references
- 11 Supplementary Information
|Project web site||http://www.life-wachau.at/index.htm|
|Themes||Habitat and biodiversity, Hydropower|
|Main contact forename||Hannes|
|Main contact surname||Seehofer|
|Main contact user ID|
|Contact organisation||The Nature Agency, Danish Ministry of the Environment.|
|Contact organisation web site||http://www.life-wachau.at/index.htm|
|Parent multi-site project|
| This is a parent project
encompassing the following
The Wachau is a 33km gorge between Krems and Melk in Austria, with a mosaic of river habitats along the Danube River and tributaries, dry grassland and species-rich slope woods. It is one of the only two remaining undimmed and freely-flowing stretches of the Danubeand part of Natura 2000, the Europe-wide network of protected areas for the preservation of biological diversity in Europe.
Loss of structural diversity has occurred within the past few decades due to elimination of gravel banks and other interventions, and disappearance of the lateral channels has resulted from increasing sedimentation of cut-off river arms during the periodic floods. In addition, dry grasslands have been abandoned for more lucrative orchards and vineyards, while intensive forest management and introduction of non-native species is increasingly affecting the slope and floodplain forest remnants.
This LIFE funded project aimed at reactivating lateral river channels, using gravel structures to serve as spawning ground for the fish fauna and as resting and breeding sites for aquatic birds after completion of a pilot study. A new forest management was created to integrate conservation aspects, increasing the proportion of dead wood and stop the proliferation of exotic tree species. It is expected that approximately 140 ha of dry grassland would be restored.
Restoration actions included structuring the main current of the Danube with gravel embankments and islands, linking old tributaries to the Danube. A fishway (2m long and 12 m of average width) was constructed at the Melk power plant. Dry grasslands and grassy slopes undergo maintenance and management of, improvement of semi-natural forests and creation of a nature protection coordination body.
Monitoring surveys and results
The new gravel islands enhance the landscape and the Danube as a natural habitat. The LIFE Nature project has linked dry old tributaries to the Danube once again and created refuges for fish fauna. The higher reaches of the slopes which lead down to the Danube are predominantly forested and are of special significance as protection and recreational forests. Dry grasslands & grassy slopes
64ha of forests have been transformed into natural forests and sustainable management has been established for 80 ha of dry meadows. The project has undertaken intensive media work and networking activities with experts from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Poland. The project was awarded first prize in the ‘Milestones - Dr. Erwin Pröll future prize’ in the ‘In Uniso with Nature’ category.
Further information on the monitoring can be found in the project websites and additional links (see references)
Catchment and subcatchment
Cost for project phases
Supplementary funding information
Total budget 5,200,000.00 € EU contribution 2,600,000.00 €
Reasons for river restoration
Hydromorphological quality elements
Biological quality elements
Physico-chemical quality elements
Additional documents and videos