Borders divide. Nature unites!

New project with participation of the Environment Agency Austria connects protected areas along the Green Belt

© Umweltbundesamt

Vienna/Bratislava, 23 November 2018 – The European Green Belt consists of valuable protected landscapes which have survived or evolved along the former Iron Curtain. Eleven partner organisations from eight European countries of the Danube region are working on the project “DaRe to Connect (D2C)” to develop recommendations for improving the ecological network of protected areas in the future. At the opening conference in Bratislava on 23 November the project partners discussed how the gaps in the largest European habitat network can be closed and what a common European protection strategy could look like.

 

Remote sensing for ecological corridors

 

Over a period of almost 40 years, a fascinating strip of wilderness evolved along the Iron Curtain. It is around 6,800 kilometres long and runs along rivers and forests through lowlands and high mountains. Many rare animal and plant species have been able find refuge here. With almost 1,300 km, Austria has a large share of the Green Belt with valuable landscapes: from the Bohemian Forest to Lake Neusiedl, from the March/Morava and Thaya/Dyje floodplains to the Dobratsch mountain.

 

Experts from Austria, Germany, Croatia, Rumania, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary will be working on the “DaRe to Connect” project, identifying ecological corridors between the nature conservation areas of the Green Belt. New methods will be developed for the analysis and application of remote sensing data derived from the EU’s Earth observation programme Copernicus. In cooperation with the University of Vienna, the experts from the Environment Agency Austria will process satellite data into GIS data and make them available for users from municipalities, as well as spatial planners or farmers.

In focus: conservation of habitats and ecosystem services

 

Under the leadership of BUND Naturschutz in Bayern (the Federation for Nature Conservation in Bavaria), “DaRe to Connect” will at the same time develop guidelines and recommendations for improved connectivity between protected areas. The focus is not only on the preservation of existing ecosystems, but also on their benefits for humans, the so-called ecosystem services. Detailed plans will be developed in six pilot regions together with local interest groups. The pilot region in Austria is the Mühlviertel with its connections to the Bavarian Forest in Germany and to the Šumava region in the Czech Republic.
The results of the project will be combined in a common strategic vision "Green Belt in the Danube Region 2030", which will serve as a basis for long-term protection.

 

Further information:

Sabine Enzinger, Environment Agency Austria, Press Office, Tel.: +43 1 313 04 5488