Floodplain restoration achieves multiple objectives in Austria
In Austria, as an Alpine country with limited area available for permanent settlements, the protection and restoration of retention areas and floodplains are generally complex tasks. Nevertheless, numerous projects and activities have been implemented along various rivers in Austria, especially in the past two decades
Even along the largest river in Austria, the Danube, which is bound by various interventions, several floodplains have been protected and restored.
Besides, multiple projects with the main purpose of flood risk reduction (e.g. by resettlement and restoration of retention areas) several meanders that historically have been cut off from the main channel have been re-connected. The re-connected meanders are important for flood risk reduction, biodiversity, water status (hydromorphological conditions), drinking water and recreation.
The process of floodplain protection and restoration is steered by the Austrian principle that “nature-oriented” measures have to be implemented and funded with priority if the direct benefits are comparable to those of structural measures.
One example is the Lobau wetland near Vienna. In the Lobau, a trade-off analysis is performed to select the management options that best address various management objectives, including the need to safeguard or improve the ecosystem condition of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, drinking water production, recreational use, flood risk reduction, navigation, agriculture and fisheries.
Six options to reconnect the meanders are assessed representing a gradient from complete isolation to full reconnection with the Danube River channel. The best compromise solution found by the analysis was a partial reconnection of the wetland with the Danube.
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