Alpine Freshwater Habitats – River Restoration Workshop
Dates: Wednesday, 3 September 2014 - Thursday, 4 September 2014
Location: Hotel Tennis, Zvolen, Slovakia
Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic, the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, the Water Research Institute and Slovak Water Enterprise, state enterprise.
This event was organised to advance conclusions from the first Alpine Biogeographical Seminar, held in Graz (November 2013). It provided an important opportunity to discuss ongoing activities of the European Commission (preparation of the EU guidance on hydropower) and highly relevant activities of the Ramsar Convention (in the frame of the Carpathian Wetlands Initiative - the official regional initiative of the Ramsar Convention coordinated by the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic).
The purpose of the workshop was to increase awareness and to stimulate collaborative action to address the main threats and pressures to Alpine freshwater habitats. There was a discussion about application of the EU guidance on “hydropower plants and Natura 2000”, implementation of EU Directives (water framework, birds & habitats), comparing of reporting duties and results, and sharing of experiences.
Alpine freshwater habitats
• Main threats and pressures influencing their favourable conservation status.
• Hydropower plants and other barriers effecting the river continuum, gravel excavation, river modifications etc.
The networking event is aimed at experts from EU member states from the Alpine biogeographic region, as well as other Carpathian states – both EU and non-EU (e.g. Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine and Serbia), the European Commission and cooperating institutions (such as ECNC, DAPHNE Czech Republic in charge of the current project on hydropower plants and Natura 2000); Ramsar Convention Secretariat. A maximum of 60 participants is expected (from 16 Member States, expert NGO organisations and the above mentioned institutions).
Over 40 experts in nature protection and water management gathered at the workshop to discuss the Restoration of Alpine Rivers. This was supported by the Ramsar Convention, the Carpathian Wetlands Initiative and the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic.
Seven EU Member States were represented along with Ukraine and Serbia as well as the European Commission and Ramsar Convention Secretariat. This workshop was the first follow-up event to the Alpine Natura 2000 Biogeographical Seminar in Graz, in November 2013, where key stakeholders first advocated a series of events to share best practice to achieve favourable conservation status of freshwater habitats and species.
Two parallel excursions were held to the Hron and Slatina Rivers and surrounding protected areas where a range of ecological, social, political and ecosystem service issues were observed, both positive and negative. The second day focussed on a series of presentations which included reviews of the work of the Carpathian Wetland Initiative (CWI), emerging EU guidance on hydro-power schemes and Natura 2000 sites, strategic environmental assessment and multi-sectoral working from the Alps and Austria, plus a series of site-based projects from across the Carpathians that explored impact assessment and restoration techniques.
As part of the programme, working groups identified threats and solutions. For example, a review of the impact of complex land ownership patterns led to unexpected synergies with the need for sustainable flood protection strategies; maybe there is a need for a target for the (re)creation of ‘Alpine’ flood plains to underpin long-term thinking, agri-environment subsidies and the need to ‘make space for water’. Elsewhere, the need for better and continued co-operation to share best practice reinforced recommendations made in Graz as did suggestions for a systematic approach to mapping and data recording but these will now be used to influence the training programme led by the CWI.
In addition, a reminder to make use of and work with existing mechanisms, initiatives and other sectors described a model for co-operative working. This approach has already informed national and regional initiatives in the Alps and Austria with the former leading to the strategic environmental assessment of Alpine rivers for hydro-power. This approach is not only supported by ecologists because it safeguards fragile ecosystems but is valued by the hydro-power sector because it enables them to target their efforts in more robust, sustainable locations. The workshop agreed that there was potential to pursue a similar approach in the Carpathians and this issue will be raised among the CWI members.
Participants were also informed about the Natura 2000 Platform and the opportunities to share good practices, guidance and other materials related to favourable conservation status and practical management approaches. Also, all presentations from this workshop, including the project information and other news shared through the Knowledge Market, are available on the Platform. The workshop report will be produced and follow shortly.
At the close of the workshop, grateful thanks were extended to the hosts and the supporting organisations on behalf of all participants, the EC and its contractor supporting the Natura 2000 Biogeographical Process.
The main aim of the workshop was to promote collaborative action at the Alpine biogeographical level, in order to help achieve favourable conservation status for river habitats and species, and to share good examples and best practices.
The full contents of the workshop is available below:
EU Habitats, Birds and Water Framework Directives - Introduction to the biogeographical
process , L. Le Maresquier, European Commission, DG Environment
The Carpathian Wetland Initiative , J. Kadlečík, State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic & Carpathian Wetland Initiative
Strategic tools for sustainable hydropower development , C. Mielach, ICPDR, Vienna, Austria
Assessment of impact of construction and operation of small Hydroelectro power plants on fish fauna and ecological state of Ukrainian Carpathians , S. Afanasiev and O. Bilous, Institute of Hydrobiology National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Ukraine
Project AIM - Alpine space in Movement, targeted to water and energy capitalization , R. Schinegger, ICPDR, Vienna, Austria
LIFE project “Ljubljanica connects” , A. Vidmar and K. Zabret, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Restoration of ecological status of mountainous stream after forest cuttings in Ukrainian part of Tisza basin: biological, economic and social aspects , O. Lietitska, Institute of Hydrobiology of National Academy of Sciences and O. Marushevska, Zakarpattya Oblast Branch of All-Ukrainian League, Ukraine