Riparian woodlands are woodlands that grow along rivers, streams, river branches and in areas with periodic flooding. “Soft” riparian woodlands occur in areas with frequent flooding and are dominated by willows and black and white poplars. “Hard” riparian woodlands are dominated by oak, elm, and maple trees and occur in areas where flooding is less frequent but with high underground water levels. Today, riparian woodlands cover only 5-20% of their original cover of the Danubean floodplains.
Today, 80%-90% of the original area of the Danubean floodplains is forested by non-native euro-american poplar hybrids. The hybrid trees have weak and thin branches that can´t support the nests of the bigger bird species such as black storks and white-tailed eagles. These trees are grown solely for fast wood production and are harvested after 20 to 25 years. These forestry practices don´t leave any old trees would provide important nesting habitats for woodpeckers, owls or blue tits that require tree cavities for nesting. In just 25 years the diverse undergrowth with the different plant and fungal species also does not have time to develop. Thus, such monocultures are not an attractive home for our native fauna species – they do not provide sufficient food or shelter.