LIFE+ Network Danube: An ecological feat for the Danube

We report here on the project activities around the measures of the LIFE+ Danube Network project: Habitat and accessibility, fish bypasses and land restoration around our Danube power plants.

Group photo with the Environment Minister in front of the LIFE logo

Danube Day 2019

Every year, people living along the Danube celebrate International Danube Day ( At the initiative of the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, this day is celebrated in Vienna with a party for schoolchildren.  The guest of honour was the incumbent Federal Minister Maria Patek. 

VERBUND presented environmental projects ranging from the fish bypass to land restoration. Special focus was placed on the barrier freedom of the power plants and the improvement of the habitats along the Danube within the scope of the LIFE+ projects.

Beaver caught in the fish trap

Beaver visit in Greifenstein

At the Danube power plant Greifenstein, VERBUND is currently testing the new fish bypass again. Fish are collected and statistically recorded daily in a temporary trap. A beaver apparently lost its way amongst the barbs and braids and had to be carefully coaxed by the aquatic ecologists to exit the cage again.

The statistical recording of all fish in Greifenstein started again on 15 March. Trained employees of the company “Profisch” empty the trap daily and mark each fish with a chip. The monitoring will run until the end of June, after which the data will be scientifically processed.

Beaver caught in the fish trap
Group picture of the project partners with spades at the groundbreaking ceremony

Groundbreaking ceremony for the Abwinden-Asten fish bypass

Together with its partners, VERBUND is equipping the Abwinden-Asten power plant with a new fish bypass. Over a distance of more than 5 kilometres, fish and other living creatures will find a new habitat and an opportunity to pass around the power plant. A total of approximately five hectares of new rive habitat will be created. The total investment in this measure is about 6.5 million euros; in addition to VERBUND, it will also receive financial support from the European Union, the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism, the province of Upper Austria and the Upper Austrian Provincial Fisheries Association. The work is scheduled to run until early 2020.
To the press release

Preparing for the groundbreaking of the Abwinden-Asten fish bypass

Estimator is held between two fingers

Fish & Chips in Ottensheim

Up to 300 fish per day: the water ecologists are landing initial results from the monitoring of the Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass. Both the diversity of species and the quantity of fish is a great success. An article about chipped gill tails and new habitats on flow, the VERBUND blog (German only).
Fish monitoring in Ottensheim
Construction machine in a wintry forest

Construction preparations on the floodplain

VERBUND is starting on the preparations for the construction of the fish bypass at the Danube power plant Abwinden-Asten in 2019. The first clearing activities in the floodplain forest will start in mid-January 2019. Earthworks for the bypass stream will also start during the winter. The fish bypass will be completed in spring 2020.
To the press release

Fish-friendly banks for the Danube between Ybbs and Melk

A visit to the Greifenstein fish bypass

Group of children standing before Danube posters

2018 Danube Day in Vienna

More than 1,000 school pupils celebrated International Danube Day in Vienna. In Vienna's Stadtpark (City Park), the young Danube scientists bustled around the many stations related to the Danube. In addition to electricity from the Danube, we also presented our efforts with the LIFE+ Network Danube project regarding connectivity and renaturation along the Danube.

To Danube Day 2018
transparent fish

Fish 4.0: State-of-the-art monitoring on the Danube

The already completed fish bypasses in Greifenstein and Ottensheim are currently being extensively tested. In a comprehensive monitoring programme, each day the fish are caught in a fish trap, catalogued and equipped with a chip. The biologists experience daily new surprises regarding the biodiversity and the numbers of fish that use the bypass channels. More about this in flow, the VERBUND blog.

To the blog article
Group photo with children and bicycle helmet in front of the fish bypass

26 May: Children's biking excursion to Greifenstein

On a bright sunny day, in conjunction with Weinviertel Tourism, we explored the new fish bypass in Greifenstein. Located conveniently along the "Betty Bernstein Children's Bicycle Path", the power plant and fish bypass offer an opportunity to take a short break.

This time a visit to the power plant was also on the agenda. The children not only saw the renaturation project near the power plant, but also got a glimpse into electricity generation. We are hoping for many more exciting excursions along the Danube's new habitats.

Greifenstein connectivity
Certificate for being a finalist for the 2018 Natura2000 Award

Ottensheim fish bypass: Natura2000-Award Finalist

The Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass ranks as one of the 5 best Natura2000 projects in Europe. We are pleased to have been a finalist, and we congratulate the winners. 

To the Natura2000 Award winners
Children with bicycles

May 26th: Children's biking excursion in Stockerau

Bike to the fish bypass: In a fun, interactive way, interesting facts about the Danube and the floodplain landscape will be conveyed as part of the bike tour. At the weir of the new fish bypass we will find out how many fish are using the new bypass channel near the  Greifenstein power plant. This will be followed by the highlight of the trip: a visit to the Greifenstein power plant. During a tour, the children will learn how electricity can be generated by using water.

After a little snack we will start cycling back at about 4:30 p.m.

Meeting point: Stockerau train station, Park & Ride facility Donaulände-Uferweg, 2000 Stockerau
Time: 2 p.m.
Total distance both ways: about 12 km

To the registration page
Group photo of the guests of honour at the opening of the Greifenstein fish bypass

Greifenstein fish bypass opened!

On April 20th, VERBUND and its project partners from the LIFE+ Network Danube project opened the new fish bypass at Greifenstein. A near-natural stream allows fish to overcome the 14.5 metre difference in altitude at this Danube power plant. This makes a 4 kilometre long channel necessary, which is integrated in the ecologically valuable areas in the Greifensteiner Au floodplain.

To the press release
Natura2000 competition image

Voting for the Natura 2000 Award has started!

As of now, voting is open for the best Natura 2000 projects in Europe! The Ottensheim fish bypass has been included in the selection. Anyone who is convinced that Europe’s longest fish bypass has earned this honour can support us with a vote on the Natura 2000 Award page. See you at the award ceremony in Brussels on May 17th!

Vote here
Natura2000 finalist logo with picture of two children in front of picture of Ottensheim fish bypass

Ottensheim fish bypass nominated for Natura2000 Award!

We are pleased to announce a special honour for one of the LIFE+ Network Danube programme projects: The Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass has been selected as one of the top 25 finalists. We are eagerly awaiting the award ceremony on May 17, 2018. Already the nomination itself is a great honour for Europe’s longest fish bypass stream. The stream not only makes the Danube power plant Ottensheim-Wilhering barrier-free and creates additional habitats for fish along the Danube. The fish bypass also links already existing renaturation projects and is therefore an important element in the campaign to achieve the Danube’s good ecological potential.

Ottensheim-Wilhering fish bypass project
Project management with community representatives from Stockerau at the compensation structure

January 2018: The Greifenstein fish bypass has water flow for the first time

Construction work on the Greifenstein fish bypass has been concluded. The 4.4 kilometre long channel was filled with water for the first time the beginning of this year. In the presence of representatives from the municipality of Stockerau, Project Manager David Oberlerchner and the Head of the Lower Austrian Danube power plants, Heinz Allmer, convinced themselves of the functioning of the compensation structure. Fish counts are planned starting in March 2018.

To the press release

Autumn impressions at the construction site for the Greifenstein fish bypass

Short Summer Break at Greifenstein Construction Site

The summer intermission in the construction work on the fish bypass at Greifenstein near Stockerau will last until August. After that, work will speedily continue, especially the transportation of gravel. Construction is to be completed by 2018.

More on summer at Greifenstein construction site in flow, the VERBUND blog.

Construction site of fish bypass at Greifenstein with excavator

Danube Day 2017 – a festival for the Danube

Danube Day, the international day of the Danube, has long been celebrated in the countries that Europe’s longest river flows through, on and around June 29th. In Vienna it was a festival for 1,000 pupils in the Stadtpark (city park) which directed attention to the Danube. VERBUND took the opportunity to present the power plants’ role in collecting garbage, as well as the efforts for connectivity for fish and the improvement of the habitats along the Danube.

More about Danube Day 2017 in flow, the VERBUND blog.

Pupils in front of a sketch of the Greifenstein fish bypass

Greifenstein: Municipal representatives from Stockerau on a construction site visit

On June 13, 2017, a delegation from the environment committee of the Stockerau Municipal Council got an overview of the construction site for the fish bypass, accompanied by Project Manager David Oberlerchner. Of particular interest was the route of the near-natural channel, which takes into consideration the local ownership structures, present nature conservation areas and existent areas worth protecting such as dry grassland zones.

Autumn at the Greifenstein construction site

Experts from Croatia here for a visit

In the framework of an exchange of experiences among LIFE+ projects, in October we had the opportunity to welcome high-profile experts from Croatia as our guests: colleagues from the LIFE+ Project Drava gathered impressions and knowledge from 20 years of experience with renaturation projects on the Danube. Sites visited were the fish bypass in Ottensheim and the project LIFE+ Traisen near Altenwörth.

To the detailed report on the website of the LIFE+ Drava Project

LIFE+ Network Danube guests from Drava

Colleagues from the LIFE+ Drava Project showed great interest in the activities on the Danube (photo: G.Safarek)

Late summer at the Greifenstein construction site

Dredging work begun between Melk and Ybbs

Below the Ybbs-Persenbeug power plant, the VERBUND fleet is currently working on a fish kindergarten. The fish larvae are just a few centimetres long and need still, shallow pool zones while growing up. The very structured Danube provided too few of these. LIFE+ Network Danube is closing the gap with dredging work at the "Ybbser Scheibe", the head of the Melk power plant reservoir.

More in "flow", the VERBUND blog

Greifenstein fish bypass: Ultrasound for fish watching

 For choosing the ideal access for the fish bypass near the Greifenstein power plant on the Danube, VERBUND is using a high-sensitivity measuring device. The purpose behind it is the modern approach of not just using a fish bypass to open a path, but rather also expanding the habitats and spawning areas of the fish.

More about hunting for fish with ultrasound in flow, the VERBUND blog.

LIFE+ Network Danube: VERBUND digger at work near Ybbs

Dredgers from the VERBUND fleet at work near Ybbs

Danube Day 2016

As in the previous year, the LIFE+ Danube Network Project Team took advantage of the international Danube Day to participate in the big Danube Day Festival at Vienna's Museumsquartier. In the course of the event, the LIFE+ Danube projects, including the renaturation project LIFE+ Traisen, were introduced to the 1,000 pupils.

LIFE+ Network Danube: School groups at the Danubeday 2017

A rush of visitors at the Danube Day 2016

Ottensheim fish bypass inaugurated!

VERBUND, Austria's leading hydropower company, is continuing to make its hydropower plants more ecological and today opened Europe's longest fish bypass channel in cooperation with its project partners. Following a construction period of a little more than a year, as of now fish have a more than 14 km long bypass waterway at their disposal to skirt around the hydropower plant Ottensheim-Wilhering during their migration.

To the press release

LIFE+ Network Danube: Ottensheim fish bypass inaugurated

Ground breaking at Greifenstein

 Symbolic preliminary to the construction of a new fish bypass at the Greifenstein power plant. With perfect weather and the active support of Regional Minister Stephan Pernkopf, the Lower Austrian Fishery Association (NÖ Landesfischereiverband) and the Ministry for a Livable Austria (Ministerium für ein Lebenswertes Österreich), VERBUND today started construction on its newest ecological facility on the Danube River. By the end of next year, Greifenstein will be equipped with a near-natural bypass stream which will allow fish to sidestep the power plant.

LIFE+ Network Danube: Fish bypass at the Greifenstein danube power plant

Ottensheim Fish Pass in the Home Stretch

The Ottensheim fish pass could be completed earlier than originally planned. The construction work is going so well that project leader David Oberlerchner is optimistic that the project could be completed in early summer 2016.

Click here for the press release.

Here you will find the current report on the project status in flow, the VERBUND blog.

LIFE+ Network Danube: Fish bypass Ottensheim danube power plant

Logjam in completed part of the Ottensheim-Wilhering fish pass

Network Danube celebrates Danube Day

The twelfth annual Danube Day was celebrated in Vienna with a huge festival. Over 800 school children marvelled at the many-faceted program. We introduced the LIFE+ Network Danube project and presented the reptile of the year for 2015, the European freshwater turtle.

18 June 2015: Network Danube at the Water Festival

The LIFE+ Network Danube project was a guest at the Linz water festival. In addition to the contribution of hydropower plants as waste collectors, the fish bypass at Ottensheim and its contribution to the ecological upgrade the Danube stood in the foreground. More than 800 visitors were able to admire Danube fish and marvel at the numerous renaturalisation projects surrounding the Danube.