The danube flood plain national park in Austria
- is a green ribbon between the conurbations of Vienna and Bratislava,
- protects the largest coherent natural flood plain area in Central Europe, which is still to a high degree ecologically intact,
- is vitally influenced by the practically free-flowing river stretch of the Danube, which in this area still has the characteristic phenomena of an alpine stream,
- represents a complex system of ecosystems including an enormous diversity of habitats, plant and animal species,
- offers home and refuge to many endangered plants and animals,
- deeply impresses visitors by the particular beauty of its landscape,
- provides a natural reservoir for high floods,
- guarantees high-quality drinking-water resources,
- functions as a Green Lung and a climate regulator for the region and
serves as a recreation area for people living in the surrounding areas.
Total area at present: 9,300 hectares owned by the Austrian Federal Forests, the Republic of Austria (Directorate of Inland Waterways), the Municipality of Vienna, the WWF) and the Municipality of Hainburg. About 60% of this area are forests, approximately 25% are covered by water.
Desired size (vision for the future): there is a plan extension of the park to 11,500 hectares by adding private-owned areas and areas owned by municipalities an agrarian cooperatives is planned.
Over a stretch of about 36km, the river Danube is part of the National Park. Its high waters flood the riverine land and thereby determine the natural rhythm of the riverine forest. The ecosystem is very dynamic. The rise and fall of the water level, (up to 7 metres) shows the extreme range of conditions to which the flood plains are subjected.
These varying conditions lead to a high diversity of habitats.
Major habitat types are
- the river Danube
- canals and subsidiary backwaters of the Danube, all sorts of marshy pools and sloughs
- gravel banks on islands and riverbanks
- flat banks with siltations and land/water transitions
- steep edges of riverbanks
- riverine forests (wet and moist flood plains) as well as forests on steep slopes
- meadows and well drained, dry grounds which remind on savannas concerning their vegetation.
Obviously this great variety of habitats is the basis for an outstanding diversity of species.
There is evidence of more than 700 species of vascular plants, more than 30 mammal an 100 brooding bird species, 8 reptile and 13 amphibian species and more than 50 different species of fish and a fauna of land-living and water-living invertebrates.
In 1997 the Danube Flood Plain National park, established in 1996, was internationally recognized by the IUCN (International Union for Conversation of Nature), as a category II protected area, which is a sign of particularly high quality granted exclusively to areas meriting special protection.