Project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” launched

10/6/2020Simbach, Braunau

As a power plant operator, VERBUND and its project partners – the government of Lower Bavaria, the conservation department of the office of the Upper Austrian provincial government, and the provincial fishery associations of Upper Austria and Bavaria – applied for the EU-LIFE nature project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” and received a funding commitment from the EU.

The Lower Inn is a lifeline and shapes the habitat far beyond the riverbanks. In the last 200 years, people, too, have shaped and considerably altered the Inn. Land reclamation, navigability, flood defences and the desire for fixed, invariable borders have contributed significantly to the remodelling of the riverscape. It was only these massive structural changes to the river that later also enabled the construction of power plants. In addition to the reliable power supply, they also caused the stabilisation of the riverbed, which eroded more and more due to the increased flow velocity of the Inn. The power plants and their large storage areas are also the reason behind the creation of today’s Lower Inn European conservation area, which is considered to be a paradise for birds.

VERBUND is the operator of the hydropower plants on the Inn and is committed to the co-existence of nature, the environment and sustainable electricity generation from regenerative hydropower. For this reason, VERBUND and its project partners – the government of Lower Bavaria as the higher-tier conservation authority, the conservation department of the office of the Upper Austrian provincial government, and the provincial fishery associations of Upper Austria and Bavaria – applied for the EU-LIFE nature project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” and received a funding commitment from the EU. 

By 2028, the project partners in Bavaria and Upper Austria will implement numerous measures for the ecological development of the riverscape on the Lower Inn between Braunau-Simbach and Schärding-Neuhaus. These include near-natural bypass waterbodies at the Inn power plants at Braunau-Simbach and Egglfing-Obernberg as well as further implementation steps to create waterbody habitat in the power plant areas of the Inn power plants at Ering-Frauenstein, Egglfing-Obernberg and Schärding-Neuhaus. Over a distance of 40 kilometres, the embankments and dykes at a total of four Inn power plants have also been optimised and preserved as a habitat for protected species of flora and fauna for the long term with targeted maintenance measures. 

Further measures in the dammed wetlands should significantly improve the nature conservation quality of the riparian forests and create additional habitats for insects, birds and amphibians. In order to make the riverscape a better place for the population to experience, but without putting conservation targets at risk, a cross-border visitor management concept has been developed and implemented for the Lower Inn European conservation area in close consultation with the project partners.

The LIFE nature project “LIFE Riverscape Lower Inn” serves to achieve important goals of the Fauna Flora Habitat (FFH) and Bird Protection Directive within the scope of the European Natura 2000 network. It also makes an important contribution to the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, which aims at achieving the excellent ecological potential for the Lower Inn. An important criterion for success in this regard involves the boosting of fish populations. These need networked habitats for all stages of development, which should be created through implementation of the project. The wetlands as well as the side arms and tributaries will therefore also be included and should in future be reconnected in the form of habitats to the Inn, which flows cold in summer. 

Furthermore, the project fits into other EU-funded packages of measures that are currently being implemented in the region. The INTERREG project “Innsieme” focuses on cross-border topics of species conservation and environmental education on the Inn. In the INTERREG project “Bachlandschaften” (Streamscapes), land restoration measures and ecological upgrades on four tributaries of the Inn and Danube will make contributions to flood defence and above all to promoting the diversity of species and habitat.

Media spokesperson for Salzburg, Tyrol and Bavaria

Wolfgang Syrowatka Wolfgang Syrowatka

PR coordinator for generation, press spokesperson Region West

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