This is what you could call a 3-day expert study visit in Austria and Germany, which was attended by conservationists, water managers, scientists, technicians, designers, postgraduate students, but also experts directly from water management practice, or representatives of the Ministry of the Environment.
At the beginning of October 2022, we organized an expert excursion where we visited sites with significant and extensive restoration measures on the Danube (in Austria) and several sites with implemented restoration measures on the Isar river in Germany. At each location, the participants were attended by excellent experts directly from practice – representatives of Austrian and German state water management companies (Via Donau, Wasserwirtschaftsamt Landshut, VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH), who prepared the restoration measures, and also coordinated the individual activities of the LIFE projects, within which the measures were implemented. A big added value was the presence of a representative of NEEMO EEIG monitoring LIFE projects in Germany.
The excursions provided the participants with a comprehensive view of the approach to restoration, answers to the functioning and implementation of renewal measures in Austria and Germany. In addition to the demonstrations themselves, there were very inspiring discussions directly at the locations. It was pleasant to see representatives from state organizations who are able to motivate other experts and share with them the acquired experience, who are proud of the long stretches of restored river flows, who are happy about the increasing number of fish in the stream and the new places where native fish species can reproduce.
In Austria and Germany, the restoration of rivers and smaller watercourses has a tradition here for decades. For some cities and towns, devastating floods were the triggering mechanism for the implementation of restorations, as we were informed, e.g. by water managers on the river Isar. Restorations here are supported by the state, regions and cities and municipalities themselves – together. Water regime restorations are carried out here not only in protected areas, but large-scale measures bringing back the freedom to rivers are also implemented directly in cities and towns, relying on current knowledge and research in the field of water management and bringing innovative approaches to this area.
We are very happy that we managed to connect experts from state, public and non-governmental institutions as well as representatives of universities in a friendly and somewhat Danube dynamic atmosphere at an event supported by projects Restoration and management of Danube floodplain habitats (LIFE14 NAT/SK/001306) and Dynamic Life Lines Danube (LIFE18 NAT/AT/000733).
We are thankful to everyone for the valuable time spent together and look forward to further meetings, challenges and joint restoration actions for Slovak rivers.