DANUBEparksCONNECTED Bridging the Danube Protected Areas towards a Danube Habitat Corridor

2nd Danube Volunteers Day

In the Danube-wide project DANUBEparksCONNECTED, funded by the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme, several protected areas are in strong cooperation to preserve the Danube as a habitat corridor. Dynamic riverine habitats and their conservation and restoration is a key task of all Danube protected areas. The WILDisland campaign is to promote the conservation of natural islands and to strengthen the Danube Wild Island Habitat Corridor.

Photo: Donau-Auen National Park, Franz Kovacs

Beside various human impacts, also garbage is getting more and more to a critical threat for the Danube natural heritage. The Danube is constantly carrying garbage from man-made products, packaging materials and drinking bottles, which is then washed ashore to accumulate on the riverbanks. Excess waste and rubbish contributes in several ways to environmental pollution. Water pollution and soil infiltration are just a few ways how mismanaged waste damages the ecosystem. Breaking down into microscopic particles,  they can harm the flora and fauna in many ways, having a significant impact on the species. Finally, garbage limits the natural experience for all of us!

Photos: PNPD

To keep the Danube natural heritage in their naturally captivating and breathtaking form, the Danube River Network of Protected Areas organized the 2nd Danube Volunteers day Danube-wide throughout the spring and summer of 2018 with the main aim of collecting rubbish and cleaning the river dynamic habitats including WILDislands. 

The 2nd Danube-wide Volunteers Day took place in 15 protected areas in 8 Danube countries. With the help of local school groups, universities, companies, stakeholders, local NGO’s and the general public, these days highlighted the importance of a clean river landscape and healthy habitats for its species.  

The participants not only actively participated in the protection of this habitat corridor, but they also learned more about river ecosystem conservation, environmental awareness and the key role of protected areas for nature conservation along the Danube River.

The collected waste will be analyzed according to specific parameters, and the composition of waste changes from the source in Germany to the Danube delta will be quantified. This analysis will be done in cooperation with PlasticFreeDanube, an innovative cross-border Interreg project. 

To get a glimpse of how our last Danube-wide Volunteers day turned out, click here.


2nd Danube Volunteers Day Event Reviews:


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.

The collected waste was cleaned as much as possible and sorted into six categories with special attention to plastic waste, for which three sub-categories (packaging, non-packaging and foamed materials) were created. This waste is now under analysis according to a set of different parameters in cooperation with the project PlasticFreeDanube. 

Photos: Donau-Auen National Park



The City of Ingolstadt hosted their 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 21th 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.

Photos: 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, PE 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: 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. The waste found was relatively little, which was also a positive surprise, a great sign of the effectiveness of proper waste management, and a way to go in the future!

Photo: BROZ



For the 2nd Danube Volunteers Day on 22nd May the Kopaćki Rit Nature Park 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: Kopaćki 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 – 1%; glass products: 1%; shoe soles and flip-flops 2%; plastic bottles 96%.

Photo: Ruselski 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: NPDA



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: PNPD
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: NPDA



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: 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: DDBRA



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: 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! 




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: LKR PA



This volunteer action was organised on 22nd September within Duna-Dráva National Park in Dunaszekcső village. 31 enthusiastic volunteers worked jointly to clean the Danube island by the village. 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: DDNPD

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