Danube Watch 2/2018 - News and Events

The Living Danube Partnership – working to restore rivers and wetlands

Vienna 26 June: the WWF, Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Company and the ICPDR took stock of the progress of their seven-year partnership for rivers and wetlands in the Danube River Basin by releasing the mid-term report for the Living Danube Partnership. The partnership is on track to restore over 53 km² of wetland habitat by 2020, and has helped to raise nearly €20 million for wetland conservation and restoration.

River and wetland restoration projects to replenish and enhance water conditions for both flora and fauna have already been completed at various hotspots for biodiversity and include:

  • installing a series of sluices to raise water levels at the Lake Neusiedl National Park in Austria to prevent its rare soda lakes from drying out;
  • the widening and deepening of the supply channel and dredging of a lake in Široki Rit, Serbia to enhance conditions for waterfowl, fish, amphibians and migrating birds;
  • the removal of two barriers and the construction of a new fish pass to enable the free movement of fish and the restoration of protected fish populations at the Russenski Lom Nature Park in Bulgaria.

Despite initial delays, six further projects are currently in various stages of development and are on track to deliver an estimated 12.85 million m3 of replenished water and 6,829 hectares of restored wetlands by 2021.

The Living Danube Tour with its travelling educational tools has already made almost 60 stops in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia, reaching more than 75,250 people, thereby helping to raise awareness of issues concerning freshwater conservation.

In the coming years, the Living Danube Partnership will also support restoration projects in Barcs Old-Drava oxbow in Hungary, the Lankoc floodplain forest in Hungary, the Drava River side-arms in Croatia and at Garla Mare and Cetate in Romania.

Danube Day 2018 - getting active for a healthier Danube in the UN Rotunda Vienna

On 4-6 July 2018, the ICPDR held a special exhibition and press event in the Rotunda at the Vienna International Centre (VIC). Staff at the VIC, along with other interested parties and journalists, were invited to a series of events to mark the International Danube Day celebrations.

The event was staged in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, and the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) to celebrate 24 years of international cooperation across the Danube River Basin. The exhibition showcased the highlights of 15 years of Danube Day through film and photographs and the vast collection of artwork created to mark the day over the years.

The proceedings opened on 4 July with a panel discussion moderated by UNIS Vienna Director, Martin Nesirky. The panel’s experts were ICPDR Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky, Lorena Feruta from the Permanent Mission of Romania to the International Organisations in Vienna and Susanne Brandstetter and Veronika Koller-Kreimel from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. This was followed by the screening of two short films: "Danube Day" and "Danube Art Master".

The second day of the exhibition featured a “meet the press” session with special guest Pascal Rösler, who travelled the 2,467 km of the Danube River from the Black Forest to the Black Sea on his stand-up paddle board (SUP) in the summer of 2017 to raise awareness of the great importance that water has on our lives. This was followed by the screening of the film 2467 – Eine Reise bis ins Schwarze Meer (2467 – A journey to the Black Sea) which documents his epic voyage.

Joining forces to save the sturgeon – European Sturgeon Conference takes place in Vienna

A high-level conference took place in Vienna on 9-10 July, with 50 experts from national administrations, the EU, academia and NGOs coming together to discuss the transnational protection of the iconic sturgeon in the Danube River. The event was organised jointly by the ICPDR and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism within the framework of the Austrian EU Presidency.

The overall objective of the conference was to trigger comprehensive action for sturgeon conservation and the restoration of their habitats and migration corridors, not only in the Danube pan European level. During the two days of the conference an effective strategy was hammered out that will help to enable:

  • the prevention of poaching and the illegal trade of sturgeon caviar and other related products through effective law enforcement;
  • full implementation and enforcement of the Water Framework Directive (WFD);
  • the facilitation of migration and the removal of the main obstacles to migration – especially at the Iron Gate dams, where there are currently no fish-pass facilities;
  • the establishment of best practice breeding programmes for all sturgeon species, including the establishment of ex-situ facilities both upstream and downstream of the Iron Gate dams;
  • the protection of existing spawning and feeding habitats from further deterioration.

The conference was hailed as a positive step towards bringing together relevant institutions and experts to share up-to-date information essential to sturgeon conservation activities. It also provided an overview of the challenges likely to be faced during the implementation of the recently adopted ICPDR Sturgeon Strategy. All of the conference participants stressed their commitment to promoting the need for action and raising public awareness of the sturgeon’s plight.
 

Next: Danube Watch 2/2018 - Danube Road Trip

Related

  • » Sturgeons in the Danube Basin
    Sturgeons are sensitive to environmental pressures and therefore valuable indicators for healthy rivers. This is why the ICPDR has endorsed sturgeons as flagship species. There are six species of sturgeons native in the Danube River Basin, but the survival of these ancient fish is threatened by a range of issues. Through the "Danube Sturgeon Task Force", the ICPDR contributes to actions such as the protection of habitats, the development of migration aids, the breeding of healthy stocks in sheltered facilities, or the struggle against illegal fishing and caviar trade.

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