DANUBEparksCONNECTED - A look back on the 2nd Danube Volunteers Day


The 2nd Danube Volunteers Day has officially ended


Photo: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority 


15 volunteers days, 450 volunteers, 378 garbage bags and approx. 1700 working hours!


The Danube’s sand bars, gravel banks and islands serve as stepping stones through Europe and its floodplain forests are unique ecosystems. DANUBEparksCONNECTED aims to strengthen the ecological connectivity. This year’s Danube Volunteers Day activities focus on cleaning up Danube river together with its banks and islands. Accordingly, they support the consolidation of the Danube Wild Island Habitat Corridor and promote WILDislands.


Preserving the Danube water quality is a duty of all, and the issue of waste pollution has unfortunately become highly relevant. The 2nd Danube-wide Volunteers Day was organized in 15 protected areas within 8 Danube countries. Participants came from various backrounds, several student groups, company employees, stakeholders, NGO’s and interested locals spent a day cleaning this glorious river, its surroundings and WILDislands.


While getting their hands dirty, they also got to know the representatives and organizers from each protected area, who explained habitat fragmentation, water pollution, river ecosystem conservation, and many more focuses of the Danube Protected Areas.


In cooperation with the project PlasticFreeDanube, a detailed sorting protocol was prepared with the aim of analyzing the waste composition, to discover potential changes from the source in Germany to the Danube delta. The collected waste was sorted into 5 categories with special attention to plastic waste, for which 3 sub-categories were created (packaging, non-packaging and foamed materials). 


As the results clearly show, the percentage of plastics compared to the total amount of waste collected increases further downstream we go on the world‘s most international river.


Review oF the Local actions




Around 30 participants, 1 day and 18 garbage bags fully filled with waste - this is how successful and well-needed the Volunteers Day in Donau-Auen National Park was. On Saturday, April 14th the enthusiastic volunteers from WWF - Generation Earth did an amazing job cleaning up a very valuable area within the National Park, and had the chance to get a closer look into how to maintain and aim for a healthy river landscape.


Photo: Donau-Auen National Park




The City of Ingolstadt hosted their 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 21st April with a special aim of taking care of the revitalised Danube riverbank. The event was organised around the state day of FÖJ, the Voluntary Ecological Year of Germany and had the help of around 40 volunteers, about half of which were asylum seekers. The participants successfully removed invasive species such as Goldenrods (Solidago sp.) that displace native vegetation from its natural habitat. Furthermore, they took some measures in regard to visitors, such as installing information panels and closing some of the beaten tracks to reduce human disturbance on the revitalised riverbank.


Photo: City of Ingolstadt




Main aim of this Danube Volunteer Day held on 17th May 2018 was the contribution towards the conservation of Danube wild islands which are habitat for often highly threatened species, characteristic for the dynamic river ecosystem and essential as places of intact river dynamics. With this aim, Public Enterprise "Vojvodinašume" in cooperation with the Technical High school from Apatin organized this joint action of cleaning the semi-island near Apatin port. Thirty students and their professors cleaned and collected around 40 bags full of different types of inorganic waste.


Photo: Public Enterprise "Vojvodinasume"





BROZ planned a great day for this Volunteer action on 18th May. Participants cleaned the river on rafts in the restored 6 km long Karloveské side arm of the Danube in Bratislava. The waste found was relatively little, which was also a positive surprise and an examplary way to go in the future!


Photo: BROZ




Nature Park Kopacki Rit, CROATIA


For the 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 22nd May the Nature Park Kopaćki Rit in Croatia chose a very special area within Kopacki rit called Vemelj, which is an armlet of the Danube. The area alongside Vemeljski dunavac in the northern part of the park was cleaned by students, professors, alumni of the biology department from Osijek, local anglers and park employees. The event went on in an excellent mood, the participants were extremely motivated and satisfied. Thanks to this result, a breath of fresh air will come to the local flora and fauna.


Photo: Public Institution Nature Park Kopacki Rit




On 2nd of June, 25 volunteers from the town of Ruse, village of Brashlen and village of Babovo, municipality of Slivo pole, gathered on the bank of Danube. The aim of organizers Club Friends of Public Park Rusenski Lom was to activate local people in protection of the Danube in course of this Volunteers’ Day. The participants cleaned 2 types of habitats: the river bank near fishermen’s settlement and an island-Small Brashlen managed by foresters. All in all, they gathered more than 15 sacks of garbage from the river bank: containing of styroform, glass products, flip-flops and most of all, plastic bottles.


Photo: Club Friends of Public Park Rusenski Lom




The waste collection on 5th June took place in Soví Les Protected area within Bratislava. Volunteers and employees of State Nature Conservancy worked hand in hand towards removing as much garbage from this location by the Danube as they could. With such an enthusiastic help, 22 garbage bags of waste was collected, which is a shocking number for the size of this area. The day was very successful, but the work is far from over to clean this valuable forest from all the traces of human irresponsibility.


Photo: Donau-Auen National Park




2nd Volunteers Day in Persina Nature Park was organized on 5th of June with great success. The date falls on the same day as the World Environmental Day, which has the theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Participants used boats and kayaks to reach Margareta island. The 23 volunteers this year were representatives from local football teams “Gigant” Belene, “Academic” Svishtov , local High school ”D.Debelyanov”, Bulgarian society for protecting birds and local fishermen.The collected waste consisted of only plastic bags and plastic bottles, and all in all 19 big garbage bags were fully filled.


Photo: Persina Nature Park Directorate




On 15th June a volunteer team consisting of high school students gathered in Dunasziget, to collect as much waste from one sidearm of the Danube as possible. The event was jointly organized by the National Park and the Trout Circle Waldorf Nature-protective Outdoor Association. Participants canoed a Danube sidearm upstream, while collecting 11 bags full of waste, and many items that didn't even fit into an avarage garbage bag. Majority of the collected waste consisted of beer cans, old plastic and glass bottles. The scenery was beautiful and by the end of this day it had become without a doubt a healthier environment. 


Photo: Donau-Auen National Park




In cooperation with the UNESCO-Schule - Stiftsgymnasium Melk, pupils collected garbage on two islands of the Danube as part of a greater school project on the subject of rivers. They paddled to the locations whilst deepening their knowledge in the topics of renaturation, river ecosystems and habitats. The participants found a variety of items: several car tires, plastic bottles, a stovepipe, a cogwheel, an empty garbage bin and a real message in a bottle.


Photo: World Heritage Municipalities Wachau




The Danube Delta represents a very favourable area for the development of exceptionally diverse flora and fauna. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve places high importance on environmental education and raising awareness. They are in strong and long-lasting cooperation with various schools, therefore on the 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 27th June pupils and teachers from these schools provided the much-needed help. They contributed to the efforts of cleaning the river landscape by collecting waste from an island and wild area within the reserve’s territory.


Photo: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority




The 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 29th June was organised in the course of the Danube Day and accompanied by various events. Participants from NGO`s, fishermen and many more spent the day on their wild island removing the remains of old buildings, shelters and additional garbage in the area. ​Afterwards, volunteers and organizers celebrated the Danube and their work with a campfire and barbecue.


Photo: Landratsamt Neuburg-Schrobenhausen




The so-called "Homok island" in Göd is part of the WILDisland corridor. During summers, it is often crowded and full of rubbish. On 30th June under the supervision of the Duna-Ipoly National Park and with the help of fellow volunteers, this island was freed from harmful waste: not less than 750 kg of waste was collected in a 11-hectare area!


Photo: Danube Ipoly National Park Directorate




On 14th July a riverbank cleaning activity was organized with locals on Windorfer island. After the volunteers spent a couple of hours collecting waste, they gathered and created a work of art from the collected items. The title of the new sculpture is "Waste planet" and it will be exhibited is several locations together with other wastearts.


Photo: Passau District







This volunteer action was organised on 22nd September within Duna-Dráva National Park in Dunaszekcső village. Due to the high water level throughout the spring and summer, the entire island by the village was under water. This had caused that even more sediments and more waste was washed ashore and got stopped by the trees and vegetation of the island. 31 volunteers participated and worked jointly to clean the Danube island. After a few hours of rigorous work, 124 huge garbage bags were filled to the absolute top. When it came to taking all this waste from the island, even the local police joined spontaneously, doing a real volunteer job with great enthusiasm.


Photo: Danube Drava National Park Directorate


Summary in a nutshell - LET the numbers speak 


The 1st Danube Volunteers Day was organised in 2017, throughout which 450 volunteers were mobilized on 14 events, and together spent over 1250 working hours contributing to preserve dry habitat sites.


Together with this year's figures, within the 1st and 2nd Danube Volunteers Day 900 people gathered and made an active, visible community contribution for nature conservation through spending about 3000 working hours of volunteer work in nature!


These volunteer activities attracted great attention also on social media, with photos and videos reaching as much as 18000 people. Moreover, due to the high interest among locals, from now on the Danube Volunteers Day is going to be an annually organised activity.


A RECENT, exemplary volunteers Day in Passau


Under the motto "Achieve more together" another Danube Volunteers Day took place on 22.09.2018 in Passau, Germany. Similar to the 1st Danube Volunteers Day, it was about the maintenance of a bushy forest site in Jochenstein, which is a valuable habitat for the Western green lizard, the Aesculapian snake and many more. In recent years, blackberries, stinging nettles and clematis have spread and heavily shaded the edge of the forest, against which the determined volunteers came prepared to fight. From a part of the accumulated material piles were built, which reptiles like to use for hiding and sunbathing.


Photo: Passau District


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