LIFE WILDisland team at Rhine River
April 26, 2024 | News

LIFE WILDisland team at Rhine River

Between April 17-19th, 2024, a big delegation of 8 of the LIFE WILDisland partners from all along the Danube (Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Romania) visited the river Rhine in Germany and France to learn more about the revitalization projects and measures along the second-longest river in Central and Western Europe and the most intensively used waterway in Europe.

While traveling to the exchange, several partners could visit one of the WILDisland project sites – the Mouth of Ussel River in Germany. We were hosted by our colleagues and the DANUBEPARKS family from the City of Ingolstadt, Department for Health, Climate Protection and Environment, who helped Uniper to develop the concept and participate in the project. The technical plans have already been prepared, submitted and approved and it is expected that the embankment removal will already start at the end of the year. 

After the long trip, on the first day (April 17th) we were hosted by the Waterways Administration at the Iffenzheim Hydropower station and learned more about the sediment management practices, preventing the further deepening of the riverbed of the Rhine, a problem that also occurs along the Danube. We boarded a ship which is depositing gravel, sand and fine sediments downstream from the Hydropower station and this was really interesting experience. The second part of the day our delegation was hosted by colleagues from the Landespräsidium Karlsruhe and the KIT Aueninstitut, who led us to the area of Wintersdorf and the Tomato islands at Au am Rhein, where similar actions for embankment removal and reconnection of side-branches have been carried out. 

On the second day (April 18th) we visited the French part, hosted by Region Grand Est, starting from the alluvial restauration Project of the National Nature Reserve of the Rohrschollen near Strasbourg. There we discussed the improvement of the hydrological regime with semi-controlled flooding of the area and habitat management with grazing. Then we visited the Polder Erstein and the National Nature Reserve of Erstein. This is one of the only two polders in France, designed to provide flood protection and secure navigation and hydropower production trying to also facilitate nature conservation and floodplain forest protection in the area. We discussed forest management practices, grazing and combating invasive species with the managers of the area.

Our last day (April 19th) was devoted to the restoration projects carried out by the Landespräsidium Freiburg. We visited the „Revitalisierung Taubergiessen“, forest renaturation areas and discussed the current monitoring program following the dam removal along the Leopoldskanal. We then drove to the Landesbetrieb Gewässer at the Regierungspräsidium Freiburg. Here we were guided along the revitalized section of the River Elz, where dams have been replaced, the river-course has been restored, grazing has been introduced and some specific landscape elements to provide fish shelter and bird nesting sites have been developed. There we also discussed ways to combat invasive species.

Following the official program, the biggest part of our delegation visited the source of the Danube in Donaueschingen, Germany. We walked along the river Breg just before it met the river Brigach and they start the Danube together. We saw the very first WILDisland in the course and were happy to take a joint photo as a DANUBEPARKS family and representatives of institutions all along the course.

We would like to cordially thank all our hosts and colleagues from Germany and France from all the authorities, state institutions and NGOs, who devoted time and effort in showing us their project sites and experience and we hope to establish fruitful cooperation and future exchange!

It was very inspiring to learn more about the challenges and success along the Rhine and put our own efforts in a better context, helping us acknowledge and cherish our own cross-sector cooperation along the Danube even more.


You find more photos HERE.