Vienna’s Danube Island to be climate-ready this year

Vienna’s Danube Island to be climate-ready this year

An EU-funded project enhances the resistance of Donauinsel ecosystem to the effects of climate change

Donauinsel, an artificial island on the Danube, is preparing to face climate change day by day. As a result, the leisure spot should be climate-ready this year, thanks to a broad package of environmental measures, informed the local authorities.

These are part of the EU-funded project DICCA, that aims to preserve the island as a valuable ecosystem and a preferred recreation area for the Viennese.

Good climate for the Danube Island

The island on the Danube was created in the 1970s and has developed into a valuable habitat for rare animal and plant species. Humans also find it a convenient place for rest, using it for bathing, boating, cycling, skating, beach volleyball.

However, the fact that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record, affected Donauinsel, too. Due to climate change, smaller ponds on the island are threatened with drying up; summer heatwaves can have powerful consequences on biodiversity, not to mention how negatively these can affect human health and mood.

Luckily, local authorities have been making coordinated efforts to counteract these processes. One of them is the project DICCA, worth almost 2 million euros, half of which provided under the European Union’s Life programme. Thanks to a package of measures, the island should become climate resilient in 2021.

The “Landscape maintenance unit” is actually a flock of sheep

The aim of the DICCA project, which started at the end of 2018 and will last until 2023, is to develop an adaptation strategy to climate change for inner-city ecosystems using Danube Island as an example. The strategy should also be applicable to other ecosystems in Vienna and other European cities.

On top of increasing the resistance of the Danube Island to climate change, the project should reduce CO2 emissions by 20%, and cost of maintenance by up to 10-15%. Targeted actions will raise awareness of the Viennese about the importance of climate protection, biodiversity and the value of ecosystems

In terms of concrete activities, 2 new pond biotopes are being created on the island and other existing ponds that are in danger of drying out are being revitalized. An irrigation system powered by wind should be completed in the autumn of 2021. In spring, native tree and shrub species will be planted in 3 different places.

A new viewing platform for visitors is also in the works, while information boards will invite them to observe the trees and bushes as the seasons change.

On a side note, a number of sub-projects and measures have already been implemented on the Danube Island before 2020. These include around 70 sheep used as environmentally friendly lawnmowers in the northern part of the island. This is believed to greatly increase the incidence of insect species on grazed meadows compared to machine-mown meadows.

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