Dry habitats are rare, but not unusual in pristine floodplains. They play a crucial role in sustaining biodiversity by harbouring many rare and endangered species. Unfortunately, these dry habitat patches are very often reduced to small remnants in the floodplain areas, resulting in isolation and habitat fragmentation. The focus of the DANUBE DRY HABITAT CORRIDOR is therefore the protection, restoration, conservation, and appropriate management of the Danube dry grasslands. For the first time, local expertise on the management of dry habitats has been incorporated into a Danube-wide perspective.
The DANUBEPARKS Canyons Network
A milestone was reached with the establishment of the DANUBEPARKS Canyons Network, resulting in a joint Memorandum of Cooperation between the Danube Canyon Administrations. These Canyons are break-through valleys and gorges often acting as key areas for habitat connectivity along the Danube. The five Protected Area representatives from Germany (Donauengtal near Passau), Austria (Wachau, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage), Hungary (Danube Bend, Duna- Ipoly National Park), Serbia (Djerdap National Park), and Romania (Iron Gate Nature Park) will work on joint strategies to synergize the biodiversity conservation actions of Danube Canyons in the coming years.
Danube-wide Dry Habitat Cadastre
The first cadastre and Danube-wide map of dry habitats were established in order to fully visualise the Danube Dry Habitat Corridor. Building on existing data and the compilation of habitat specifics of each Protected Area, the finalized map sheds light on the core areas, as well as possible gaps interrupting this corridor.
Pilots for dry habitat management
Flood protection dykes act as ecological linkage for semi-dry grassland species in various sections of the Danube. A grazing pilot activity in Germany, in addition to cross-border grazing between Slovakia and Austria, aimed to support this eco-corridor and to develop the dyke as Green Infrastructure between the Protected Areas. The activities raised awareness, brought together key experts, and demonstrated a feasible alternative for the longterm management of dry grasslands.
Since dry habitats host valuable populations of orchids, the management of these areas must be given special consideration. Alongside a Danubewide map of orchids as flagship species, a special botanical study on orchid abundance in a section of the Danube in Hungary was prepared, as well as a study on a rare, flagship butterfly species specific to an important dry habitat in Germany.
Based on a thorough evaluation of local dry habitats, a Danube-wide strategy has been developed to form a better understanding of the habitats of the Danube, and to provide information on directly applicable management measures.