Original paper

New infrastructure projects and a biodiversity strategy in the Danube River Basin

Nagl, Gerhard

Abstract

The contribution from an environmental NGO (Danube Environmental Forum) perspective refers to the high “biodiversity threat“ in the Danube River Basin (DRB). Fish and other aquatic species, also riparian and grassland habitats and species are indicators for endangered fauna and flora in the river corridors of the Danube and its tributaries. The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) brought significant improvement for an integrated approach to water protection although not all objectives of aquatic and wetland biodiversity protection could be met and the designation process of “heavily modified water bodies“ reveals political influence to possibly facilitate river alteration. New infrastructure projects for inland navigation and hydropower are posing substantial new threats to biodiversity. The Danube Strategy of the European Commission fostering navigation and hydropower calls for a DRB biodiversity strategy on basin and sub-basin levels to assess impacts and to save species and habitats. A Danube biodiversity corridor including tributaries could be a core element of habitat connectivity and balanced integration of uses. Danube fish and mollusc fauna of European importance as well as braided rivers and species rich grasslands are relevant elements of a Danube biodiversity conservation strategy.

Keywords

danubebiodiversitywater framework directive (wfd)hydropowernavigationriver corridorgrasslandsdanube strategydegradationendangered species