Good practice

DANUBEPARKS for Natura 2000

Danube river - backbone for biodiversity

Passing ten countries, the Danube is the world´s most international river. With its diverse habitats, it forms the backbone for biodiversity in South East Europe. Its relevance for nature conservation is reflected by numerous Natura 2000 sites as well as National Parks, Biosphere Reserves and Nature Parks.

Since the accession of many Danube countries to the EU, they not only share the same challenges: EU legislation like the FFH and Birds Directive and the EU Danube Strategy now form a common framework for nature protection in the region.

Natura 2000 - the common framework

Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of the EU’s nature and biodiversity policy. Established under the EU’s Birds Directive and Habitats Directive, it is an euwide network, covering around 18 % of land area and substantial parts of the surrounding seas. The aim of the network is to assure the longterm survival of Europe’s most valuable and threatened species.

DANUBEPARKS - coherence and best practice

National Parks, Biosphere Reserves and other Danube Protected Areas play a leading role for the conservation and restoration of habitats and species. Often, these activities are best practice initiatives for the management of Natura 2000 sites. The LIFE Programme is the European Union´s funding instrument for the environment and it is also to co-finance best practice or demonstration projects that contribute to the implementation of the Birds and Habitats and the Natura 2000 network. More than 30 successful and best practice LIFE-projects were implemented by the Danube Protected Areas - for river restoration, habitat management, conservation of species. A Danube-wide LIFE-project under the umbrella of DANUBEPARKS is in preparation.

The general objective of LIFE is to contribute to the implementation, updating and development of EU environmental policy and legislation by co-financing pilot or demonstration projects with European added value.

Networking towards a Danube habitat corridor

The natural treasures of the Danube are interlinked, nature does not recognize state borders - therefore, nature protection need to work all along the river as well! Within DANUBEPARKS, for the first time all relevant Danube Protected Areas, managing over 30 Natura 2000 sites at the Danube, have systematically tackled common challenges on a Danube-wide scale.

Setting up transnational task forces, promoting intensive experience exchange, elaborating transnational strategies and implementing pilot actions contributed to more coherence in the Nature 2000 management in the region. Since 2009, 150 actions were implemented on Natura 2000 habitat management, conservation of flagship species and river restoration.

The next phase is in preparation: the conservation and further development of the Danube habitat corridor! – with Danube Protected Areas as key areas.

Protected Areas: for animals and plants - and people

Functioning ecosystems benefit human health, society and the economy. Not only do Natura 2000 and Protected Areas provide an array of environmental advantages, it also serves essential – and sometimes unnoticed – social and economic functions. Around 4.4 million jobs are directly dependent on the maintenance of healthy ecosystems, a significant proportion of which are situated within Natura 2000 sites. DANUBEPARKS is active to promote and communicate this crucial role of Protected Areas by promoting nature tourism and public awareness on a Danube-wide scale. The big interest in DANUBEPARKS festivals, events and publications stresses the leading role of Protected Areas to fascinate the public for Nature 2000 sites.