Donau - Rührsdorf-Rossatz (LIFE03 NAT/A/000009)
Donau - Rührsdorf-Rossatz (LIFE03 NAT/A/000009)
The Wachau valley is one of the two places in Austria where the Donau can flow freely. The landscape is a mix of fluvial nature, arid grasslands, grassy slopes, wine terraces and fruit orchards. In 2000 the Wachau valley was granted UNESCO World Heritage status and is part of the Natura2000 network. The project LIFE Nature Wachau was implemented to further improve the Wachau valley by structuring the main channel with gravel banks, linking old Danube tributaries back to the main river, management of dry grasslands and grassy slopes, improvement of semi-natural forests and the creation of a nature protection coordination body for the Wachau valley. Location Rührsdorf-Rossatz is one of the project areas where old tributaries were reconnected to the Danube river.
Pressures and Drivers
Regulation of the Danube for 100 years has created embankments to protect the villages and agricultural lands in the floodplain. The combination of power stations, river bed erosion and migration obstacles have accelerated the siltation of the tributaries of Rührsdorf-Rossatz, cutting off the tributary from the Danube which created dead traps for fish. This had a devastating effect on the population of Common Nase (Chondrostoma nasus) from over 100,000 several decades ago to 3000-7000 in 2002.
The global objective was to link the old tributary to the Danube to create refuge habitat for riverine species.
No specific objectives could be found in the available documents
No success criteria could be found in the available documents
The old, silted up tributaries of Venedig and Pritzenau were deepened and reconnected to the Danube by two inflow openings. The excavated fine material was reused to cover the rubble on the banks of the Danube creating a new 1 km flat embankment.
No pre- or post-restoration monitoring plans for this project could be found. Results in the Laymans report do show that fish, birds, amphibians and dragon flies were surveyed, but it is not clear if this was part of a large monitoring scheme planned in the program or regular monitoring at the site outside of the project.
Expectations and Response
It was expected that the new tributary would be a refuse for rare and endangered species.
The results show that the tributaries have created a natural paradise for people and animals. Fish use the new tributaries for spawning and rest and 35 new species were identified when surveying the channel in 2007, including the endangered Huchen (Hucho hucho), Danube roach (Ratilus virgo), Striped ruffe (Gymnocephalus schraetser), Streber (Zingel streber) and Common Nase (Chondrostoma nasus). Also, several breeding pairs of Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) was seen.
The project leader of the Rührsdorf-Rossatz was Via Donau – Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH. Other project partners were:
- Land government of lower Austria
- Lower Austrian Fishery Association
- Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Environment and Water Management
- Arbeitskreis Wachau: Regionalentwicklung
- HYDRO INGENIEURE Umwelttechnik GmbH
- Ezb Eberstaller Zauner Büros
- Freiwasser, Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Ökologie, Kulturtechnik und Wasserwirtschaft
Cooperation and approval of the landowners and farmers was important for the project. The project partners worked in collaboration with the market town of Rossatz-Arnsdorf, the farming community Rossatz and the Austrian fisheries association to ensure the 80 landowners affected by the measures approved the project.
After the project was completed, a documentary was made available for schools and communities for free. A touring exhibition with six large displays traveled across municipal offices and schools. A book, Wachau and its surroundings – habitats of a cultural landscape by Werner Gammerith in association with LIFE Wachau was published and made available in bookstores. Information boards were placed at prominent sites to inform visitors about the natural features. Folders and a regional newspaper ‘landschaften’ have been produced with information about LIFE and the LIFE Wachau project.
The total project costs were € 5,255,000, 50% of which was financed by EU LIFE. The other half was divided between the project partners.
%EU Funding: 50
%State: 1.0 (The Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry,
Environment and Water Protection)
%Regional authority: 17.5 (The State of Lower Austria) %Local authority:
%Water authority: 24 (Via donau Österreichische Wasserstraßen
%other partners: 6.5 (The Lower Austrian Fisheries Association) 1.0 (Arbeitskreis Wachau)
Name: Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Karl
Organization Name: Via donau
Phone-Number: +43 0 50 ext. 215 or 215
LIFE Nature Project Wachau: of dry grasslands and Danube Nase (2008), Arbeitskreis Wachau – Regional Development
- Initiate natural channel dynamics to promote natural regeneration
- Reconnect backwaters and wetlands
- Construct semi-natural/articificial wetlands or aquatic habitats