Donau-Auen National Park represents a "green ribbon" connecting the conurbations of Vienna and Bratislava. It’s the largest complete, (near) ecologically intact natural riverine environment of its kind in Central Europe, characterized by the nearly free-flowing Danube, which here retains the character of an alpine stream. Find more information here.
The area is recognized as a Riverine Wetlands National Park, Category II (IUCN). It covers the surface of 9,600 hectares (approx. 65% is riparian forest, 15% meadow, and approx. 20% is covered by water).
Donau Landschaft, @Baumgartner
An interplay of ecosystems which exhibit an enormous variety of habitats, plant and animal species, Donau-Auen National Park is home and refuge to many endangered plant and animal species. More than 800 kinds of vascular plants, 30 mammalian species, 100 breeding bird species, 8 reptilian and 13 amphibian species, and around 60 species of fish are living here.
The National Park is the preferred habitat of several flagship species, including the Little Ringed Plover, a well-camouflaged, sparrow-sized bird. As an indicator of river dynamics, this ground-nester benefits from large-scale river restoration projects that provide bare or sparsely vegetated gravel or large sand banks where it lays its brilliantly disguised eggs on blank sediment.
Why is it suitable for testing the IDES tool?
The NP is an important area for scientific programs, therefore we have an excellent data availability (> 30 years, several disciplines). Additionally, several restoration measures were implemented in the last years in the region. In the near future additional measures are planned. Together with the very good data availability, the area is suitable to analyze the broad spectrum of ES and also to evaluate the effect of management measures on water quality and ES.
Ecosystem services provided by Donau-Auen National Park
Most common uses of Donau-Auen National Park are directly related to ecosystem services (ES), that ultimatelly bring direct or indirect benefit to people.
Provisioning Ecosystem Services
Provisioning services refer to products obtained from the eco-system, which may include genetic resources, food, fibre and fresh water. In this context, the national park serves as an important resource for high-quality drinking water, in the form of bank filtrate. Up- and downstream of the national park boarders, hydropower plants along the Danube generate electrical energy.
Regulating Ecosystem Services
Regulating services refer to the benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes, such as the regulation of our climate and water. The 38 km long floodplain of National Park Donau-Auen offers a wide range of such regulation services: For instance, it serves as a natural retention area for floods and nutrients, and plays and important role for carbon sequestration and sediment regulation. As the so-called “green lung” of the city of Vienna, it also acts as an essential climactic regulator for the region.
Cultural Ecosystem Services
Cultural ecosystem services are the non-material benefits people obtain from nature. This includes recreation, creative and aesthetic experiences, physical and mental health benefits and spiritual enrichment. Due to its geographical closeness and well-developed public transport connection to Austria’s capitol city Vienna and its 1.9 million inhabitants, Donau-Auen National Park serves as an important destination for recreational activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, bathing, fishing, birdwatching and mushroom picking. The national park authorities offer educational courses as well as guided hiking and boat tours for visitors.