Wetlands, Environment, Society and Pressures: effects of environmental changes on the ecological and social functions of riverine wetlands

Riverine wetlands belong to the most threatened ecosystems of the world. The massive river regulation measures during the last 100 years together with other human impacts have led to dramatic changes in the water balance and in the ecologic situation. Global climate changes, increasing land use pressures, and pollution present an additional stress for these rich and diverse ecosystems which threatens their basic ecological functions.

The aim of the 2-year research project WESPe is to study the effects of environmental changes and increased stress levels on the ecological and social functions of riverine wetlands. Our study area is the floodplain Lobau in the Danube River Basin, an ecological valuable nature reserve immediately at the border of the city of Vienna. The global warming, the frequent changes between dry periods and catastrophic floods as well as the increasing number of visitors influence the structure, diversity, and stability of the sensitive aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats and affect their attractiveness as recreation places.

In our project, researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, and of the Interdisciplinary Water Research Institute WasserKluster Lunz work together with students of the schools HS Orth, GRG 10, BRG 18, and Francisco Josephinum Wieselburg to analyse the interactions between stress intensity by environmental and human factors, ecological functioning, and attractiveness of floodplain habitats. Emphasis is given to the significance of riverine wetlands for the life quality of young people.

This project has been completed.