The Joint Danube Survey, which is coordinated by the ICPDR and where DANUBEPARKS contributed this year with monitoring results, measures the natural state of the river every couple of year: Water quality, ecological status, morphological conditions, etc. To raise the awareness of the public on the importance of nature along the river, various public events were planned. One of them was the three-day boat tour organized by Donau-Auen National Park, where guests had the chance to experience wilderness along the river and to learn about scientific monitoring.
The group started in Vienna, at the occasion of the press conference there, and went the first kilometres on the monitoring boat to pass by the hydropower plant of Freudenau. Though this obviously was not wilderness, at least a glance could be taken on the work of the scientists, who travel along the Danube for nearly two months to do their measurements.
As soon as paddling had started, the surroundings also changed, and from the big city the group entered the area of the Donau-Auen National Park, protecting one of the last free-flowing river sections on the Upper Danube. For three days now, the group was on the water, in the boat, and entered the floodplain forests nearby. They could also enjoy their breaks on the beautiful gravel banks - thanks to river dynamics: These habitats exist only when the river is not dammed and not embanked, where sedimentation and erosion processes still function naturally.
This is exactly the topic of the monitoring, which DANUBEPARKS contributes to the Joint Danube Survey: Two unspectacular birds, the Little-ringed Plover and Sand Martin, breed on gravel banks respectively in holes of steep river slopes. They need these dynamic habitats and can therefore serve as indicators of the natural dynamics in different river sections.
Camping and bondfires - of course in the area where it is allowed in the National Park! - completed the programme, and a guided tour to the National Park visitor center filled last knowledge gaps. On the third day in the afternoon, the group arrived in Bratislava, having seen also the start of the neighbouring countries Danube section. A cross-border wilderness boat tour, truly an exciting way to discover the National Park, the Joint Danube Survey's importance, and the DANUBEPARKS Networks activities!