The kick-off of the LIFE WILDisland project took place in May 10-11th in Vienna, Austria, gathering more than 80 project partners, experts and key stakeholders from all Danube countries. Between 2021-2027, 14,2 Million Euro will be invested for the conservation and restoration of the Danube WILDisland Habitat Corridor, supported by the LIFE instrument of the European Union.
The project official launch was started with video messages from the Austria's Federal Ministers Leonore Gewessler, former Minister Elisabeth Köstinger and the Slovakian state secretary Juraj Smatana. Among the other keynote speakers were Ivan Zavadsky/ICPDR, Danube Strategy Point, policy officer Frank Vassen from the European Commission, as well as renowned representatives of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, IUCN, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
Among the highlights of the event was the signing of a communiqué by the ambassadors and representatives of nine of the ten Danube countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Moldova, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany). The document represented a declaration of intent on the importance of Danube-wide cooperation, the exemplary role of the DANUBEPARKS and the WILDisland Initiative as well as an improved protection of islands within the framework of a unique global, multilateral Danube WILDisland Ramsar Regional Initiative.
The event provided excellent networking opportunities and experience exchange for a number of LIFE-funded projects, including LIFE DICCA, LIFE Sterlet, LIFE IRIS, Dynamic LIFE Lines, LIFE Danube Free Sky. It allowed to not only discuss technical details, related to project planning and reporting, but also identify synergies, possible cooperation and future partnerships.
The second day of the conference, more than 60 project partners and experts visited the Schwalbeninsel, Austria, where ambitious reconstruction measures to restore the natural riverbed and allow nature to model the habitats are planned by the Donau-Auen National Park and viadonau - Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft. The trip was made by boats along the Danube and the project partners had wonderful opportunities to review restoration actions, completed within previous projects, exchange experience, review design plans and consider the optimization of their own actions and measures.
This incredible cooperation is inspired by the fact that the Danube has over 900 islands which form a habitat corridor of European importance and provide refuge for characteristic animal and plant species. A total of 147 of these islands are still completely natural and are to be increasingly protected with the help of the LIFE WILDisland project and a total of 15 partners from 8 countries, covering the sectors of hydropower, waterways, forestry and nature conservation.
Jointly for the Danube Wild island corridor!...
Georg Frank, Project Coordinator, Donau-Auen National Park: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elena Kmetova-Biro: Project manager, Donau-Auen National Park: email@example.com