On 30 January 2024, the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management (IHG) (IHG) at BOKU Vienna and viadonau organised the MERLIN Day 2024 in Hainburg.
The morning was dedicated to stakeholder participation and mutual exchange. The members of the advisory board of viadonau's Catalogue of Measures for the Danube east of Vienna and representatives of the national partner project LIFE IP IRIS were able to compare the two very different project approaches of MERLIN and LIFE IP IRIS at the Kulturfabrik Hainburg. The possibilities and limitations of transferring the findings from the innovative river engineering projects on the Danube east of Vienna to other river sections were then discussed. It was possible to draw on many experiences, as the participants were and are involved in very different river restoration projects in different roles.
The input gathered from the workshop will be incorporated in particular into the development of a Regional Scalability Plan, which will be created for each MERLIN case study. The scientists at BOKU's IHG are responsible for scientific support of the Austrian case study, analysing the findings and combining them with research results from other case studies.
In the afternoon, the programme included a visit to the ongoing construction site for the MERLIN riverbank restoration. As the Austrian implementation partner, viadonau is responsible for this construction project. Over a length of approx. 800 metres, the banks of the Danube are being completely cleared of riprap, some of which are lying in two rows and preventing the formation of natural bank structures. After the Christmas floods subsided, work was able to continue in mid-January 2024.
The bank restoration is directly connected to the mouth of the Spittelauer side arm, which was reconnected to the Danube in 2021 (in the framework of Dynamic LIFE Lines Danube), and significantly expands the earlier river restoration project.
MERLIN is a Europe-wide research project in the EU's HORIZON 2020 funding programme. Research is being conducted on effective methods for the restoration of European freshwater habitats. BOKU's IHG and viadonau are contributing a riverbank restoration project on the Danube as case study 7a. The researchers are particularly interested in viadonau's many years of experience in the renaturalisation of large rivers that are used as waterways.