DANUBEPARKS - Danube Environmental Education

DANUBEPARKS journey on Environmental Education along the Danube in order to gain an overview on what exists in terms of environmental education, and to collect as many experiences and good-practices as possible....

City: Orth an der Donau

DANUBEPARKS - Danube Environmental Education

NOTE: This is a shortened version of original blog. More information, photos and additional links can be found on this link.

The DANUBEPARKS journey on Environmental Education along the Danube lasted just 21 days, but within those, we visited more than 40 sites and held interviews with the responsible people. Our aim was to gain an overview on what exists in terms of environmental education, and to collect as many experiences and good-practices as possible: The results will be published in a report, and lessons-learnt will contribute to the quality guidelines for environmental education offers of the DANUBEPARKS partners.

Our journey started on 28th of May in Ulm, Germany. A meeting with the director of the Donaubüro focused on synergies between DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0 and TRANSDANUBE – a project that tackles sustainable transport along the Danube. Questions on public transport and cycling paths were therefore included in all interviews during the tour; the results will be provided to TRANSDANUBE for further use.

On 29th of May, our team approached the Naturpark Obere Donau, whose visitor center is situated in an old railway station building. A nearby forest trail includes one stop, where visitors can spot silhouettes of birds in the trees with the help of a spotting scope. Good sign of regional cooperation – the spotting scope was produced in cooperation with trainees from the region.

The following day started with a nice morning walk in the floodplain forest between Neuburg and Ingolstadt. Situated in the former hunting castle of Grünau, the Auenzentrum Neuburg is the main information center, focused on floodplain dynamics and the ambitious revitalization project implemented in the last years. Several kilometers downstream, the gorge Weltenburger Enge is located, which together with the Monastery Weltenburg draws more than half a million visitors each year. A highlight there was the fact that offers for people with disabilities are established in a very competent and encompassing way.

We reached Wachau valley after stopping at the Haus am Strom at hydropower plant Jochenstein. The Arbeitskreis Wachau takes care of nature protection, as well as some environmental education with volunteers, tourists, and locals. High level water – resulting from melting snow plus the heavy rainfalls of the last days – unfortunately prevented us from visiting the Natura Trail here.

On 1st of June, we finally had some sun for a while! We went a bit further away from the Danube, following Morava River to the Czech-Slovak-Austrian border triangle. Ute Nüsken from the association Auring told us about their bird monitoring program measures for habitat protection and connectivity, and the environmental education programs linked to them.

The second station, also at Morava River in Marchegg, was one of the few tree-nesting White Stork colonies. In this area everything is related with this one bird: In the Stork House, built up in cooperation by the community and WWF, you can get some information and ask for a guided tour to the White Stork platform - but you could also go there on your own, there are so many and so close that you will for sure see them!

Passing through Slovakia and Hungary, we saw many good examples of environmental education. Just some examples to pick out: Futura in Mosonmagyarovar is a new science center, where among others you can get into the role of a White-tailed Eagle or a bat and use their special senses. Duna-Ipoly National Park manages a visitor center on Sás Hill, in the middle of Budapest – nice change during a city trip! Last but not least, Duna-Dráva National Park has recently built up an outdoor exhibition on traditional fishing methods, where also the tasting of fish soup is included in the program.

On 5th of June, we headed to the Croatian part of the Danube. At the moment, colleagues from Kopački Rit Nature Park are building a new visitor centre after the first one was burnt down. The highlight there is definitely the boat trip in the sidearms! Second stop was Lonjsko Polje at the Sava River with its broad range of educational offers that include not only natural, but also cultural values – for example linked with its distinct local architecture.

The Danube then lead us to Serbia, where the first meeting was with colleagues from Vojvodinašume. After visiting Kupinovo and Deliblato Sands – couldn’t go to the Sand Dunes for time reasons, what a pity! – we climbed to the viewpoint Ploče the next day, where an impressing view on the Djerdap gorge opens. The visit then continued to Iron Gates National Park and further through Romania to Bulgaria – from now on, long driving distances started!

The visit to Persina Nature Park was very inspiring since many new things were added since the last visit. For example, a model of a revitalization project done on the main island, where visitors are able to steer the floods into the wetlands. In Tutrakan, location of the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Site, we visited the only boat building and fishery museum along the Danube. Further on, the road led to Rusenski Lom with its impressive gorge and old rock monasteries, and then across the bridge that connects Romania and Bulgaria, between Ruse and Giurgiu.

On 11th of June, we arrived to the Danube Delta. The first stop was the Danube Delta Ecotouristic Museum in Tulcea. At the moment, the “Chance for the Blue Danube” exhibition is shown here – the competition and exhibition is an international one done by the Biosphere Reserve Administration within the DANUBEPARKS STEP 2.0 project.

A round trip by boat across the Delta started from Murighiol, via Sfantu Gheorghe and Sulina to Crisan. At the info center in Sf.Gheorghe, the team met leaders of an inter-school exchange between Germany and Romania, where pupils were working on GPS-guided educational tours on sustainable development in a Biosphere Reserve.

As it is impossible to cross directly from Romania to Ukraine, the travel led a bit away from the Delta: First to the Natural History Museum Complex in Galati, where currently a permanent exhibition about the Danube and Prut Rivers, and floodplain ecosystems in general is constructed. At the border with Moldova a stamp was missing in our cars papers, so it was left behind. The team however could continue due to the great organisational help from Moldovan and Ukrainian partners. At the Romanian-Moldovan border, on both sides there is a Protected Area along the Prut River, fascinating habitats worth visiting!

Our last stop of this exciting and exhausting journey was in Ukraine, symbolically right next to the 0km sign. Together with colleagues from the Biosphere Reserve and from Salix tours we watched many cormorants, pelicans, and herons. During a stop on island gardens, we learnt how people cultivated the land in the delta - our last lesson in this adventurous and fruitful journey.

For more information, please visit original blog.

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