Sensational ecological success on the Traisen
The redevelopment of the Traisen river mouth is Austria’s biggest land restoration project to date and one of the most extensive measures anywhere in Europe. Two years after completion of the work, ecologists are examining the success of the measures. Researchers at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences are proving the sensational success with electric fishing and modern technology.
LIFE+ Traisen sets new ecological records. Covering an area of 150 hectares, a new habitat typical for the region has been created, offering an extended home to a large number of native animal species. To this end, 1.6 million m³ of topsoil and fine sediment were rearranged within the floodplain area to create ponds and areas of shallow water. 1.4 million m³ of gravel were removed and mostly returned to the Danube as bed loads.
The diversity of water bodies created on the Traisen with its many structures in the transitional area between water and land represents a great enrichment of the floodplains. Finally, the Danube also profits from the ecological upgrade of the Traisen.
VERBUND Managing Director Michael Amerer is proud of the success, which was preceded by comprehensive planning. “Wherever possible, we do far more for the environment than is required by law. On the Traisen, we are once again proving that hydropower is not only clean but can also deliver real added value for the environment.” The prerequisite for this is the good cooperation with European, Austrian and regional partners.
Deputy Provincial Governor Stephan Pernkopf has accompanied the project for many years as a responsible member of the provincial government. “With this project, we are not only giving the river more space again, we are also linking and expanding valuable green spaces. Not only are sea eagles and Danube salmon profiting from the new Traisen but so are the people of the region.”
Science is thrilled by the new Traisen
University professor Stefan Schmutz, head of the Institute for Hydrobiology and Water Management at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, talks about a project that has no equal in Europe. “Science can learn from the Traisen how other bodies of water could be rehabilitated.”
Thomas Friedrich, a scientific employee at the Institute for Hydrology and Water Management, heads up the monitoring programme and is thrilled by the results achieved so far. “We are witnessing the birth of an ecological river system here. The Traisen is developing in a healthy way and has an abundance of species.” The researchers are particularly pleased that the diversity of fish is increasing and that undemanding fish species are making room for rare, current-loving fish such as barbel, common nase, streber and schneider.
LIFE+ Traisen partners for Austria’s biggest restoration project
VERBUND is taking on project management and the lion’s share of the costs. The EU is funding large parts of the project with means from the LIFE+ grant. The project is financially supported by the Federal Office of Hydraulic Engineering (Lower Austria), via donau, the Provincial Fishery Association (Lower Austria), the Lower Austrian Landscape Fund and the Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. Also involved are the companies entitled to purchase electricity at the Altenwörth power plant: Energie AG, KELAG and VKW.
LIFE+ is a funding programme of the EU for supporting conservation projects in Natura 2000 areas. The Natura 2000 network of protected areas is intended to help preserve the diversity of wild flora and fauna as well as habitats throughout Europe. The LIFE+ project Traisen is making a significant contribution to improving the Natura 2000 area.
More about the project: www.life-traisen.at