LIFE+ project Wilderness Wetland Wachau

The currently running project “Wilderness Wetland Wachau” is intended to follow on from two previous LIFE projects in the region. Extensive measures for revitalising the remains of old river courses are planned during the project period. Existing areas of riparian forest on already existing and newly created islands should be improved and expanded. The creation of spawning waters is envisaged for highly endangered amphibians such as the yellow-bellied toad and the Danube northern crested newt, nests will be created for white-tailed eagles and valuable old trees will be protected.

Project promoter: viadonau with the participation of the association Welterbegemeinden Wachau (World Heritage Municipalities Wachau), the municipality of Rossatz-Arnsdorf, the Lower Austrian Provincial Fishing Association, the Lower Austrian provincial government, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water (Life Ministry), and the Austrian Fisheries Society
Project duration: 2015 - 2020
Project costs: approx. €3,900,000 (50% EU)

Planned and partly realised projects

Project map of wilderness wetland © viadonau
School projects contribute to raising the awareness of amphibian habitats © Hannes Seehofer
Girdling should cause the neophytes to die off © Hannes Seehofer

The following measures have been or will be implemented during the project period:

Schopperstatt side arm

An approx. 1.4 km-long side arm that flows all year round is being created in the area of the remains of the old side arms “Anzuglacke”, “Sportplatzlacke” and “Schopperstattlacke”. It is also intended to conserve or construct still water areas, bays and small-scale structures along the banks. Approx. 2 hectares of new riparian forest will be created on the Danube side by converting intensive fruit-farming facilities, approx. 3 hectares of riparian forest will be established along the banks of the new side arm. To preserve access to the drinking water spring, a bridge capable of taking lorries (clear width 20 - 25 metres) is needed; moreover, the conservation of the pedestrian network is planned (footbridge).


Approx. 10 hectares of orchards (public water resource) will be removed in the riparian zone. Areas of box elder (approx. 2 hectares) will be converted into native forest. A cutting through to the Danube enables an additional feed to the Pritzenau and Schopperstatt side arms. An approx. 36 hectare conservation area will be prepared in the Pritzenau.

Venediger Au

Danube-side flattening of the banks along the existing side arm near Rührsdorf; enlargement of the cutting at Rührsdorf with an additional bridge element to a total of 24 metres clear width (removal of narrow point in the Venediger Arm); riparian forest improvement to approx. 3 hectares of municipal land: Removal of the neophytes, afforestation with native woods.

Schönbüheler Island

Approx. 6 hectares of neophytes such as box elder and robinia should be removed on Schönbüheler Island and replaced with native tree species. Schönbüheler Island will be prepared as an approx. 14 hectare conservation area.

Conservation of amphibians

Amphibian protection concept and creation of 10 large spawning waters and 10 temporary ponds (incl. for Danube northern crested newt, yellow-bellied toad).

Conservation of the black poplar

Stocktaking of the autochthonous black poplars in the Wachau, protection of old trees; planting of seedlings.

Conservation of white-tailed eagles

Definition and establishment of eyrie protection zones; hanging of artificial eyries in the Donauleithen hillside forest, on Schönbüheler Island and on Grimsinger Island.

The project website of viadonau can be visited here.