A beech forest in Thayatal National Park, along the border of Austria and Czechia.
Mountain view in Gesäuse National Park, in the central Austrian Alps.
Along the Grossglocknerstrasse, in the Hohe Tauern National Park.
The Neusiedler Lake, in eastern Austria.
Donau-Auen National Park, along the Danube River near Vienna.
During the past few months I’ve been able to visit several of Austria’s national parks, including the Donau Auen, a spectacular bosque river landscape that starts practically in downtown Vienna and extends all the way to the border with Slovakia. The Donau Auen is one of the biggest remaining natural river landscapes in central Europe and stands as testament to the power of grassroots activism. When plans for a giant hydropower plant were revealed in the early 1980s, students, teachers, artists and others banded together to occupy the area, eventually winning the public relations battle and leading to preservation of the area.
While Austria is best known for its mountain landscapes, the Neusiedler See is located on the eastern border of Austria, where the mountains tilt away to the great steppes of the northernmost Balkan region. The other two parks in shown in this set are in the heart of Austria’s Alps, featuring classic mountain landscapes. Most Austrian parks are just a few decades old and were inspired by national parks in the U.S. Indeed, the concept of public places as showcases of ecological diversity and preservation is probably one of America’s best exports.
National assessment helps pinpoint conservation issues
The health of American wetlands — at least what’s left of them — in the U.S. is a 50-50 proposition, according to the EPA, which this week released a first-ever national assessment of wetlands conditions, part of a national aquatic resource survey.
Wetlands, once maligned as no-good swamps, are critical for ecosystem health, water quality and flood attenuation, but development and agriculture have chipped away at the waterlogged areas for decades, leaving many degraded.
Restoration and public use among the key focus areas
FRISCO — After years of planning and public input, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials this week said they’ve completed all the environmental studies and a conservation plan for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, in south-central Colorado.
Conservation groups say new rule has too many pollution loopholes
FRISCO — There will be yet more legal wrangling over a new federal clean water rule, as conservation groups said last week they will sue to plug some loopholes that could open the door for more pollution in wetlands and streams.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce leads effort to overturn Waters of the U.S. rule
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — A new federal wetlands rule that helps protect water quality and important wildlife habitat will face a federal court challenge from groups representing some of the country’s biggest polluters.
‘Many people would say, what’s the big deal if we drain this small area? But these smaller wetlands are integral …’
FRISCO — A new study by researchers at Waterloo University supports the EPA’s proposed new rule for protecting discontinuous wetlands by showing that those smaller marshy patches function best as a group.
Interconnected pockets of wetlands form a landscape mosaic which provide unique habitat and safe breeding grounds for species such as salamanders and migratory birds. Many traditional wetlands conservation projects tend to overlook that “edge” function and mistakenly focus on preserving only total wetland area, with no consideration of ecosystem services provided by different wetland types. Continue reading “Small wetlands critical to overall ecosystem functions”→
Findings come as EPA edges toward final new clean water rule
By Summit Voice
Geographically isolated wetlands like prairie potholes and desert playas in the Southwest are critical to water quality and also provide many other ecosystem services — even though they may lack the regulatory protections of other wetlands, according to Indiana University researchers.