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29.08.18

Natural flood prevention on the Danube shores: Floodplain Institute Neuburg participates in EU project

During the last decades, adjacent states to the Danube, which traverses ten European states from source to mouth, have been hit by disastrous flooding. Over the next two years, a European research consortium with more than 20 collaboration partners will investigate possibilities to reduce the risk of flooding by restoration of floodplains along the Danube in an international project involving the Floodplain Institute Neuburg of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU).


Floodplain forest on the Danube between Neuburg and Ingolstadt in summer 2018. Researchers of the Floodplain Institute of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt are planning to transfer their experience from the renaturation of this floodplain area to other restoration projects along the Danube in Europe. (Photo: Press Office/Christian Klenk)

Floodplain forest on the Danube between Neuburg and Ingolstadt in summer 2018. Researchers of the Floodplain Institute of the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt are planning to transfer their experience from the renaturation of this floodplain area to other restoration projects along the Danube in Europe. (Photo: Press Office/Christian Klenk)

In the project implementation, the KU Floodplain Institute can fall back on its long-standing expertise gathered during the renaturation process of the Danube floodplains between Ingolstadt and Neuburg and in the context of international projects in China. “Water does not stop at borders – therefore this project seeks to investigate various perspectives for water management and for the prevention of flooding on an international level, also bearing in mind the aspect of biodiversity, which is preserved and promoted by floodplains”, explains Prof. Dr. Bernd Cyffka, head of the KU Floodplain Institute and professor for Applied Physical Geography. In addition to Cyffka and his team, the German side of the project “Danube Floodplain” also involves researchers of the Technical University of Munich. On an international level the team is reinforced by scientists from Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Romanian national water authority is responsible for the overall project management. The European Union supports the sub-projects of the KU Floodplain Institute with approx. 250,000 euros.

Many floodplains along the Danube have been destroyed by residential areas, agriculture and infrastructure measures over time. Involved scientists seek to investigate the positive effects of floodplains that are still in existence and determine which potential could be exploited in currently dry floodplains by using a consistent methodology in several pilot regions. Compared to complex and costly technical flood protection measures, the renaturation of floodplains also offers the possibility of preserving biodiversity and laying the foundation for a larger number of species.

Usually, renaturation projects have to bear in mind the perspectives of many different interest groups – neighboring communities, forest owners, fisheries associations or agricultural holdings. This is why the KU Floodplain Institute has decided to summarize stakeholder analyzes of the other project partners in order to be able to estimate the floodplains’ so-called ecosystem services. These are services that floodplains can offer for humans and nature – for example serving as habitat for plants and animals, as recreational area, filter for pollutants or by contributing to flood protection. In a second step, considering the different requirements to the floodplains ecosystem will serve as a basis for a cost-benefit analysis model which will be developed together with the Floodplain Institute Neuburg. The model will then be part of a guideline for regions along the Danube presenting criteria and step-by-step guidance for implementing own renaturation measures. It also offers solutions for possible conflicts arising between different interest groups.

“The project also wants to prove that renaturation measures can be more beneficial in many ways compared to conventional flood protection – both for the people and our economy and for the nature”, says Professor Cyffka.

For further information on the project, please visit  www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/danube-floodplain