The kick-off meeting of the DANUBE4all project partners took place from 13 to 15 March 2023 in the new hydraulic engineering laboratory at BOKU in Vienna, Austria.
Among the highlights of the event was a boot tour to Paradies island in the Donau-Auen Nature Park, where some of the most ambitious restoration actions will take place. Here a long section of the embankment will be removed to revitalize the entire section and maintain the island character of the Paradies island complex, improve the hyrdological conditions and the quality of the invaluable riparian habitats. An official project partner is the DANUBEPARKS Association and the second project site of the Association will take place in the Duna-Ipoly National Park in Hungary, where groin adaptation will be carried out. Both actions were presented in detail and discussed on the second day of the meeting.
The provided measures are inspired by the WILDisland concept and are in full synergy with the LIFE WILDisland Project, complementing the on-going restoration actions.
This is why experts from the WILDisland joined the boot trip in order to share their experience and discuss the particular conservation measures and expected results in the light of the joint concept for island conservation and river redynamization.
DANUBE4all is a new, innovative and Europe-wide research project that started in January 2023 as a "lighthouse initiative" of the EU to support the mission "Restoring our oceans and waters by 2030". The five-year project will culminate in a scientifically sound and, above all, practice-oriented plan for the renaturation of the flowing waters of the entire Danube catchment area.
"The interests of all stakeholders - whether from the population, companies or science - are to be included in order to create sensible solutions in the long term,"
...explains DANUBE4all project coordinator Helmut Habersack from the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering, Hydraulics and Flowing Water Research at BOKU.
On the one hand, the project aims to improve ecological and morphological status - such as biodiversity, ecosystem connectivity and sediment continuity, and to reduce flood and drought risk. Secondly, DANUBE4all links such measures to social and economic well-being by adopting a science-to-people approach and actively integrating public interests.
"The aim is to develop and implement innovative "win-win" nature-based solutions. On the one hand, they will lead to an improved, dynamic state of rivers and floodplains, a reduction in flood and drought risk and an improvement in the continuity of sediments and biota. On the other hand, these renaturation measures should also be economically profitable, for example by creating green jobs,"
...says Habersack. These restoration measures in natural areas are being tested on three pilot stretches - east of Vienna, in Hungary and in the Danube Delta - and with the involvement of the population.
The project's recipe for success: interdisciplinarity and co-design. DANUBE4all brings together a unique consortium of 48 partners in 14 countries from universities, research institutions, public organisations such as the Danube Protection Commission ICPDR, NGOs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), under the leadership of BOKU. The five-year project is funded by Horizon Europe, the EU's main funding programme for research and innovation, with 8.5 million euros.