DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0
The focus of DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0 was to build on the achievements of the first joint project, anchor results firmly either by implementation actions or by integrating them into a policy framework and to further enlarge the network. The areas of work were River Morphology, Habitat Management, Flagship Species, Monitoring, Tourism and Anchoring of the Network. Between October 2012 and September 2014, a budget of € 2.2 mio was invested in nature protection along the Danube.
A review to all activities is given in the DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0 Project Report 2012-2014.
The task force meetings for each work package and/or activity built the basis for implementation, experience exchange and in-depth discussion of common positions, while the Steering Committee Meeting at the Directors level dealt with questions of the future of the Network as such.
The international art competition “A Chance for the Blue Danube” was organised, as well as the International Danube Festivals in Tulcea and Backi Monostor, a combination of nature and culture and the most important tool for involving the local public. Tools produced to establish a stronger common identity included a DANUBEPARKS book, a DANUBEPARKS calendar and DANUBEPARKS promotional items.
Activities and Implementation
River Morphology Goes Policy: The successful Danube-wide monitoring of indicator species for natural river dynamics was repeated in 2013, now as part of the Joint Danube Survey organised by the ICPDR. The inclusion of the monitoring results in this survey gives them higher political relevance and makes them a decision-making basis for future protection or engineering measures on the river. An initiative for WILDisLAND, to establish an international protection scheme for dynamic Danube islands based on cross-sectorial cooperation, was elaborated. As further parts of the overall Action Plan on River Morphology, two detailed examples of restoration plans focusing on sidearm reconnection and on sediment balance, were planned. To discuss intensively with navigation and engineering stakeholders, two Cross-sectorial Workshops on Conservation and Navigation were held in September 2013 and April 2014 in Austria, together with the NEWADA Duo project.
Flagship Species Go for Stakeholders: Implementation of the White-tailed Eagle Action Plan, adopted by the Council of Europe / Bern Convention, was started. The Protected Areas developed project ideas for several conservation topics, and launched a Danube-wide winter census with involvement of the interested public. To implement the Perspectives for Floodplain Forests, a Danube-wide black poplar (indicator species) cadastre of single trees, old growth stands and rejuvenation areas was set up, together with a genetic analysis of black poplars from eight Danube countries. The promotional campaign “Danube parks poplars” raised awareness for the most majestic single trees, using QR codes that provide information to visitors. Stakeholder involvement was tackled by two actions: A Cross-sectorial Conference on Forestry in April 2014 in Serbia, and later several study visits to Austria by Danube forest authorities.
Joint Quality for Joint Tourism Products: As a future central point for visitor communication, a DANUBEPARKS visitor centre with indoor and outdoor exhibitions was be planned. An assessment tour along the Danube was performed to study the available environmental education offers and to serve as the basis for future product development and cooperation. Joint quality guidelines now ensure high and increasing quality for visitors to the Danube Protected Areas. As a pilot project where these guidelines were tested, offers for disabled people were developed by two Protected Areas. The conflicting interests between nature protection and tourism development were tackled by the elaboration of carrying capacity approaches, tested in two different Danube sections. A database now collects experiences on how to avoid conflicts between tourism and sensitive species.
Anchoring the Network: Training for project managers ensured their capacity to take over the lead for future transnational projects. The assessment of Protected Area administrative structures provided further guidance on cooperation in technical terms. An experience exchange with other international Protected Areas networks served as inspiration for DANUBEPARKS’ own future. Finally, based on all these activities, the DANUBEPARKS Association was founded in August 2014, and the activity and budget plan for its first year of functioning prepared.
The project partners included: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, Rusenski Lom Nature Park, Persina Nature Park, Ðjerdap National Park, Vojvodinašume, Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, Kopački rit Nature Park, Duna-Dráva National Park, Duna-Ipoly National Park, Fertö-Hanság National Park, BROZ, Donau-Auen National Park (Lead Partner), City of Ingolstadt and Landkreis Neuburg-Schrobenhausen.
The observer partners representing Protected Areas, and thus actively participating in the implementation of activities, were: The Association of Galati County Fishermen, Agency Moldsilva and Romsilva - Iron Gates Natural Park.
Other observer partners included: ICPDR; ALPARC; Piatra Craiului National Park; Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation; via donau; Vienna City Municipal Department 49 Forestry Office and Urban Agriculture; State Nature Protection of the Slovak Republic; Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province; Ministry of Culture of Croatia, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria; Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health; Executive Forest Agency of Bulgaria; Ministry of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning of Serbia and Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention – UNEP Vienna.