At the beginning of this year, The Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation (IRSNC) started preparations for the local action plan named Action Plan for Habitat Restoration and Nature Interpretation in Natura 2000 Site Mura in Slovenia. For this purpose, an interdisciplinary expert team was formed. It consists of foresters, water managers, nature conservation experts, interpretation experts and experts for agriculture. After the initial phase, first thematic excursions were organised in order to visit possible best practice cases of forestry, water management and agriculture in Austria. Locations for the excursions were carefully chosen. All visited sites are facing similar challenges to those in the Natura 2000 site Mura in Slovenia. The basic idea was to gain knowledge, which can then be implemented on the river Mura.
Donau-auen & Macheeg
First excursion took place on the 5th and 6th of April. The team visited the Donau-auen National Park and the nature reserve at Marcheeg. On the first day colleagues from the Donau-auen National Park presented river bank restorations, cases of river bed stabilisation, measures for improvement of ecological conditions and side arm reconnections. A second part of the excursion in the Donau-auen National Park was focused on forest management: a transformation of young forestation and clearance areas; support of natural rejuvenation; suppression of invasive species (e.g. Ash-leafed Maple, Tree of Heaven) and non-intervention management.
On the second day expert team visited the Nature Reserve Marcheeg, which is a WWF reserve. The main focus of a visit was wetland/grassland management with grazing animals, and especially Konik horses. WWF guides also presented the stork programme, nature interpretation activities and visitor management. The project team also visited a nearby middle forest rejuvenation site. A second part of the study visit was led by representatives of WWF and ViaDonau. They showed river restoration sites on the Morava River, focusing mainly on side arm reconnections.
On the 11th of May, an expert team went to Carinthia. They visited restoration sites on the Upper Drava River. For the past 20 years, Klaus Michor and his colleagues from Revital are doing a great job restoring a heavily regulated river. First Mr Michor provided insights on reasons, history and the process of river restorations on the Drava River. The presentation was followed by a field trip to several river restoration sites around Obergottesfeld and Unteramlach. It was amazing to see how much effort was done to improve ecological conditions, flood protection and recreation possibilities in the Drava river corridor.
Both study visits were very useful since there was an opportunity to discuss challenges in river corridors, which are more or less similar across the whole region. Certainly, some approaches to dynamic river corridor restoration can be transferred to IRSNC Local Action Plan.