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Black Poplar

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Habitats

Natural systems – also the connections between various habitats and their inhabiting species – are dynamic. The connection, undisrupted by human infrastructure, between the same or similar types of habitat is needed, for the migration of plants and animals to work – which is indispensable for their survival. Ecosystems also don’t recognize state borders: These are merely lines on a map, but in reality very often one large ecosystem is spread over several countries.

Activities DANUBEparksCONNECTED

Corridor Land - Dry Habitat

Beside aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats, forests, meadows, and even dry habitats are also part of natural river ecosystems. Due to hydro-morphological alterations, today these dry habitats (e.g. so called Heisslands) are very often reduced to small remnants in the floodplain areas. These sites are home to highly endangered plant and animal communities. To avoid isolation of these habitat patches, eco-corridors for dry habitats have to be restored. Dykes, primarily erected as flood prevention infrastructure, have often become valuable secondary habitats - today hosting populations of orchids and insects and breeding sites for the European Pond Turtle. This linear structure, following the Danube along its entire length, qualifies this Grey Infrastructure to be further developed into a habitat corridor.

For the first time, Danube DRY HABITATS are in the spotlight. A new DANUBEPARKS partner will erect a subsidiary network that unites DANUBEPARKS canyons. A cadastre and a Danube-wide map of dry habitats and orchids as flagship species will be drawn based on existing data (Natura 2000, Copernicus) in order to visualise the corridor and to identify gaps.

Corridor Land - Forests

Wetland forests are vital habitats serving multiple functions for flora, fauna and humans. In the past century, around 90% of the original Danube wetlands have been lost due to human intervention. Today, most of the last remaining large-scale floodplain forest complexes are protected by the Danube Protected Areas, famous for their richness in biodiversity. To counteract isolation of their wildlife population, ecological connectivity measures are needed.

The Danube riparian forest Fitness Check, GIS data interpretation and remote census work are the base for the elaboration of strategic documents towards a Riparian Danube Forest Corridor. A coordinated survey on bats along the Hungarian Danube section will test the efficiency of the Fitness Check, different pilot actions will demonstrate the implementation of the strategy.

Activities STEP 2.0

Black Poplar (© Baumgartner)
The main aim in this project was to further support the maintenance of an international network of floodplain forest habitats. This activity built on the Perspectives for Floodplain Forestsdeveloped in the first joint project.

The Black Poplar was selected as a flagship species to support this work as it provides a hook for communicating with the public about protecting old forest stands as well as dynamic rejuvenation areas, and about the genetic varieties of local species. The DANUBEPARKS network elaborated a Black Poplar cadastre, and analysed the genetic variability of Black Poplar as basis for future reforestation and protection actions.

The leadership of Vojvodinašume - a publicly-owned forest company that manages the Protected Areas in the Serbian province of Vojvodina - is a real asset for cooperation with forestry stakeholders in this activity. A cross-sectorial conference on floodplain forest management was held in spring 2014 in Novi Sad to exchange experience and foster cooperation among the two sectors.

Activities 2009-2012

Kopacki-rit Nature Park (© KRNP)
One major focus during the first project was on forests: A large part of floodplain areas is covered by forests, which are different from other forests in the way they react to and depend on the varying levels of water that rise and fall throughout the year. In response to this, the DANUBEPARKS Network developed Perspectives for Danube Floodplain Forests which provide general guidance on managing floodplain forests in protected areas and help to establish common standards along the entire Danube River. It also includes suggestions for how to further protect the forests along the Danube and help re-naturalise forest stands.

Additionally, the project focused on establishing closer networks and coherent management in border zones. Examples of activities include the cross-border conservation concepts in the Austrian-Slovakian, Hungarian-Croatian and Hungarian-Serbian border zones. Additional unilateral management plans were created for the Duna-Ipoly National Park and the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve.