Project in the Morava-Thaya Wetlands increases nature-friendly tourism and boosts eco-awareness

The Ramsar Eco NaTour project brings nature-friendly tourism to the Morova-Thaya Wetlands in Austria and Slovakia, and nearby Marchfeld. Both are Ramsar-designated protected areas for their valuable land and wide variety of wildlife and plant species. The project brings value to the land by creating recreational areas for the urban cities of Vienna and Bratislava, and by enhancing local awareness and regional cooperation on climate change and protecting biodiversity.

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Ramsar designated areas assist in nature preservation across borders © Ramsar EcoNaTour Ramsar designated areas assist in nature preservation across borders © Ramsar EcoNaTour

Managing tourism

Though both countries along the March/Morava River use the land differently, the nature protection challenges are similar for Austria and Slovakia and the project worked on a local level in both countries. The project was able to create a cross-border map of the Morava-Thaya Wetlands by outlining focus areas for preservation and determining the most promising sites for tourism development. The map offered guidelines and recommendations for different areas of the wetlands, including “nature-priority” areas and recreational areas. This map enables tourist activities to be managed in accordance with nature-protection guidelines, and tourists and locals to enjoy the wetlands while still preserving their ecosystem.

A historical windmill was also recreated with a showroom in its basement featuring tours, multilingual exhibits, and information to draw visitors. Information on dry habitats in the cross-border area will be on permanent display as an exhibit in the windmill.

Education and awareness

Educating the public and raising awareness about the importance of conserving the Ramsar designated areas was a key component of the project. Schools and interested citizens in both countries came together to create model preservation concepts for selected habitats in Marchfeld and the Morava-Thaya Wetlands. Teachers and project ambassadors will carry on these efforts by continuing work on additional projects and educating others in the area.

Eco-pedagogues were also trained on nature preservation and will continue to raise awareness and work on additional conservation projects. The Eco NaTour project included sustained education programmes to motivate school children and nature guides in selected schools. Projects focused on sand dunes, water animals, dry habitats and more. The project worked on a local level in order to ensure that efforts could remain effective over time, as the local community is more likely to stay involved in the long run. 

Total Investment and EU Funding

Total investment for the project “Ramsar EcoNaTour” was EUR 505 960, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 430 050 under the Operational Programme “Cross Border Cooperation Program Slovakia-Austria” for the 2007-2013 programming period, under the priority axis “cooperation and joint management of protected areas.” 

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