D2C DaRe to Connect - Supporting Danube Region’s ecological Connectivity by linking Natura 2000 areas along the Green Belt

Project activities

Work packages 1. Project management and 2. Communication activities are not described here as far they are generally not specific to the thematic project content.


WP 3. Interconnected Green Belt

WP leader: University of Vienna

Activity 3.1. Method development for assessment of natural features and ESS of the Green Belt in the Danube Region

A GIS-project will be created covering the investigation area of a corridor of 50 km (25 km-buffer on each side of the former Iron Curtain) along the Green Belt in Germany (Bavaria), Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria for data analysing and visualisation of results. Additionally, three patches (max. 100 x 100 km) of remote sensing raw data from Sentinel-Satellites will be transferred into GIS-usable data for testing in 3 pilot areas and accordingly a monitoring methodology will be elaborated. A “translation-system” to transfer Sentinel-data into broader habitat types like bogs, rivers and streams, different kind of grasslands and woodlands etc. will be developed – it means which Sentinel data set is correspondent to which natural feature. This will be done by ground truthing in sample areas in the pilot regions

Activity 3.2. Analysis of transnational ecological corridors and ESS assessment methodology

Several analysis will be conducted: for the entire investigation corridor along the Green Belt the percentage of protected areas will be evaluated and a connectivity analysis (also called nearest neighbour analysis) for the Natura 2000-sites will be done. Findings will be analysed in detail to assess gaps, corridors, etc. Contribution of the Green Belt to Natura 2000 and European Green Infrastructire will be evaluated.

Activity 3.3. Coordination of objectives and results with regional, national and transnational stakeholders

A guiding principle for the future implementation of suitable ecological corridors and networks between Natura 2000 sites along the Green Belt in the Danube Region will be elaborated. Requirements and objectives for the transnational/EUlevel as well as for national level will be identified regarding the implementation of PEEN and TEN-G. Analysis results will be discussed on workshops with responsible organisations and representatives from relevant public authorities and administrations (nature conservation, spatial planning, building, agriculture etc.) as well as with NGO active in the field of nature conservation. A transnational measurement catalogue for future implementation will be elaborated. The identified ecological corridors will be evaluated concerning their feasibility for implementation in the framework of the entire land use claims, general legislations and potential obstacles and needed requirements in case of trans-boundary implementation of measures.

Activity 3.4. Transnational strategic vision „Green Belt in the Danube Region 2030

The vision will aim at the improvement of political commitment for the implementation of ecological
corridors and Green Infrastructure. It will provide facts and arguments, based on the project results. The document will be signed by representatives of responsible ministries or authorities as well as responsible politicians during the final transnational conference after previous comprehensive coordination with the responsible organisations and potential signatories.

Activity 3.5. European Stakeholder dialogues and learning interactions supporting transnational connectivity

Results and outputs of the project will be presented and discussed on several occassions (e.g. transnational scientific conference held in Vienna, EUSDR PA6 steering group meetings, at meetings of PA 6 strategic projects and DTP projects with relevant topics, relevant expert groups on EU- and national level as the Working Group on Green Infrastructure Implementation and Restoration (EU WG GIIR) or of the DG Environment. Mission reports of the participations at all meetings will document the exchange and knowledge transfer as well as identified synergies. Peer reviews will support mutual and learning and exchange of knowledge and experiences.

WP 4. Pilot actions

WP leader: Iron Gates Nature Park Administration

Activity 4.1. Preparation of pilot actions: regional GISprojects, data collection, identification of stakeholders

For all six pilot regions separate GIS-projects comprising the spatial scope of the pilot activities will be set up. Available data on habitats, species and other spatial features (barriers for connectivity etc.) will be collected, including data on physical barriers in the pilot regions like fences or other kinds of obstacles for migrating
animals (due to the fact that these barriers are often not visible in remote sensing data). Furthermore “legal” and currently nonvisible barriers as result of existing spatial plans (like priority areas for the development of grey infrastructure or other spatial relevant requirements) will be identified and taken into consideration for following analysis.
Responsible stakeholders (like authorities/agencies responsible for nature conservation, spatial planning and agriculture etc.) will be identified and contact listst created.

Activity 4.2. Identification and qualitative analysis of ecological corridors and ESS to strengthen Natura 2000

More detailed regional data will be collected and spatially more precise connectivity and gap-analysis will be conducted in pilot regions 1 to 4.  This will lead to a predefinition of spatially defined regional ecological corridors and a precise categorisation of the quality of corridors regarding the enhancement of the Natura 2000 network.

Furthermore ESS in all 6 pilot regions will be analysed, therefore training seminars by University Vienna for the staff of all PPs will be conducted to qualify for the in-situ evaluation of ESS. For each pilot region sample areas will be analysed.  Furthermore maps showing the different ESS provisions of each pilot region will be produced.

Activity 4.3. Development of regional ecological network and wetland restoration concepts

General principles for the pilot regions 1 to 4 regarding the future implementation
of suitable regional ecological corridors will be elaborated. For the pilot regions 5 and 6 a joint general
principle for the preservation and development (including precise development goals) of wetlands and their
ESS along Rivers Drava and Danube will be elaborated. These principles will be discussed with relevant public regional administrations and other relevant stakeholder at least 1 workshop in each pilot region.
A catalogue of potential measures and needed requirements for implementation will be compiled. Results of the workshops will be presented at public political events in every pilot region to gain commitment
and endorsement of the political level for future implementation of local/regional concepts developed. A summarizing joint transnational guideline will be elaborated how the regional concepts can be integrated & contribute to the transnational framework of EUSDR and EU TEN-G.

Activity 4.4. User friendly GIS tool for using remote sensing data

Based on the developed methods and by GIS data processed in the project course  a user-friendly GIS tool will be developed that allows identification of  natural features and potential ecological corridors on local and regional level. Impacts on Natura 2000 areas and negative or positive developments of the habitats can be recognized in GIS too. The small and user friendly free GIS - tool will be accompanied by an online manual as well by a set of 6 training courses in all pilot regions to improve capacities of GO and NGO stakeholders in ecological corridor planning and the preservation and development of ESS.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)