The Danube River is the uniting element of the Danube Parks Network, thus it is clearly the main focus of our joint activities. Natural river dynamics are the key factor for a diversity of habitats and species. High floods and low waters leave their traces in the form of steep slopes, gravel islands and sand banks. Where vegetation appears and remains for a longer time, forests can grow and survive even longer floods. Branches are created by the river itself and are in need of the connection with the main river. Still, nothing is forever in a floodplain area: The force of the water can change the picture completely within a couple of days.

This functioning system provides a lot of services to nature and people: flood protection by retention areas, an extremely fertile ground, and beautiful recreational sites.

However, the river is not natural anymore – alterations to the natural flow of the river have been implemented during the last 150 years. Hydropower plants disrupt the connectivity of the river, river embankments and straightening the river bed cuts off floodplain areas from the river. The need to restore these altered river stretches is clear if we want to save the unique ecosystems of floodplains, rivers and wetlands along the Danube River.

Activities DANUBEparksCONNECTED - WILDislands

The Danube islands as well as gravel and sand banks all along the Danube are of outstanding value for nature conservation, e.g. as habitats for indicator species of river dynamics.

Danube islands are dynamic habitats and natural processes are the key for their preservation. To a great extent, there is a joint understanding that wilderness and non-intervention management is to be seen as the best approach to ensure the habitat quality of the Danube islands in the long-term. Beside this, islands can act as stepping stones along the river, contributing to raise habitat connectivity. Finally, the conservation of Danube islands is to be seen as a clear statement for hydro-morphological processes and an intact sediment regime – some of the most determining factors for an intact river ecosystem in general.

Consequently, DANUBEPARKS launched an initiative towards the establishment of a Danube Wild Island Corridor. Considering the Danube as a multifunctional system, the WILDisland initiative is based on a cross-sectorial approach, integrating relevant stakeholders and land managers. Requirements for the international waterway, flood protection but also commercial interests by forestry enterprises are to be taken into consideration for the elaboration of the detailed concept in the course of DANUBEparksCONNECTED.