BIOMURA - Conservation of biodiversity of the Mura river in Slovenia LIFE06 NAT/SI/000066

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1 BIOMURA - Conservation of biodiversity of the Mura river in Slovenia LIFE06 NAT/SI/ Project description Environmental issues Beneficiaries Administrative data Read more Contact details: Project Manager: Lidija GLOBEVNIK Tel: Project description: Background The bed of the river Mura that flows through NE Slovenia is well preserved, especially in the middle and lower stream, where it is characterised by embankment erosion, deposition of the sand, flooding and side-channels. Deepening of the riverbed due to send accumulation behind the dams of hydropower stations in Austria, however, has resulted in a greater risk of flooding. There are no dams on Slovenian river section, but plans to alter this situation are resurfacing. Alluvial forests listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive are spreading along the river and its branches and some wet grasslands. The changing ground water level is no longer optimal for the long-term growth of alluvial forests and grasslands and could lead to the growth of other types of vegetation that might affect the management and introduction of fast-growing tree species. The project area is part of the Natura 2000 network of sites (psci and SPA), but without adequate management of the area for example, opening and cleaning of the side channels ecologically sensitive flooded vegetation and other species cannot survive. Objectives The main aim of the project was to ensure conservation of existing natural

2 resources and biodiversity and to restore the ecological character of the Mura river corridor to meet the needs of the wetland ecology. The project was particularly focused on conservation of four habitat types, listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, including the priority habitat type (Alluvial forests with alder Alnus glutinosa and ash Fraxinus excelsior) and a number of Annex II-listed species (an amphibian, five types of fish, a dragonfly and the priority butterfly species, Jersey tiger - Callimorpha quadripunctaria). There are also 10 targeted bird species, listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive. The project area covers 15 km² and lies within the high water protection embankments of the Mura. The main planned actions were the removal of heightened banks to stimulate side erosion and widening the river profile, introduction of rock-fill riffle (rocky shoal just below the surface of the waterway) to raise water levels during low and average flows, reopening of the side-channels and introduction of a system of wooden sluices to raise groundwater tables. Moreover, standing water habitats would be restored for amphibians and dragonflies, and wet grasslands improved providing habitats for butterflies and birds. Information and awareness-raising materials including a film on the importance of restoration for biodiversity would also be produced. Results The project achieved its objectives. The main result was the creation of favourable conditions to meet the needs of wetland and river ecology, which enables high biodiversity of the river Mura. The connectivity between the main river and side channels and introduction of higher river morphological structure in the river bed (erosion banks, gravel bars, river islands) and flood forest were re-established. Hydrological works: With the removal of 9990 m3 of bank protections, an area of 1.7 ha for the gravel feeding was established. Two rock-fill riffles were also established. At two locations a total of m side-channels were improved. Clearing of trees and shrubs was carried out on m2 and oxbow lakes, overgrown with vegetation and sediment, were cleaned (more than m3). Land purchase: Targeting the long-term conservation and improvement of the wetland and water habitats along the Mura, 26 plots of land on 3.57 ha, were bought from private owners during the project period. Proper maintenance of the river channel over the next few years will result in certain improvement of ecological conditions needed for the existence of wetland and water habitats in the purchased plots. In connection with the above-mentioned actions, this will help improve hydraulic connections between surface waters and groundwater. Dissemination: Information and awareness-raising was another important aspect of the project. Ten issues of the BIOMURA newsletter were published, along with five leaflets/booklets for a wider public. A high-quality DVD film was also produced with English subtitles; and three local and two regional workshops were successfully held. Moreover, an information centre with educational trail has been opened and is already reporting many visitors. These high profile educational and demonstration effects are considered especially important due to increasing pressure to build the hydro power plants on the Mura river.

3 To summarise, the project enabled favourable conditions for many target habitats and species by maintaining good status and/or by improving the good status of species and habitats. Water conditions, in terms of water table levels, periodicity and amount of inundated water channels, oxbows etc. are improving both habitat and species. Monitoring has showed that populations of target species are now higher than before. However, more time (at least 10 years, according to the beneficiary) is considered necessary, to show in full the positive effect that the changed river morphology will have on the target fish populations, due to the lifespan of individual fish species and their sexual maturity. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report(see "Read more" section). Environmental issues addressed: Themes Habitats - Freshwater Water - River basin management Keywords protected area management plan Target species Alcedo atthis Aspius aspius Bombina bombina Callimorpha quadripunctaria Ciconia nigra Dendrocopos medius Ficedula albicollis Gymnocephalus schraetzer Ixobrychus minutus Misgurnus fossilis Ophiogomphus cecilia Pernis apivorus Porzana parva Porzana porzana Rhodeus sericeus amarus Sylvia nisoria Umbra krameri Target Habitat types Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)" 91F0 - "Riparian mixed forests of Quercus robur, Ulmus laevis and Ulmus minor, Fraxinus excelsior or Fraxinus angustifolia, along the great rivers (Ulmenion minoris)"

4 Natura 2000 sites SPA SI Mura Beneficiaries: Coordinator Instute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia / Institut za Vode Republike Slovenije Type of organisation Research institution Description Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia is a specialised professional organisation for water resources management and freshwater and maritime engineering. It provides a wide range of services from research work, studies, environmental and risk assessments to consulting and final design. It operates as a public enterprise with an annual revenue of 1.5 million. Partners Inženiring za vode, Slovenia Mura vodnogospodarsko podjetje, Slovenia Zavod Republike Slovenije za varstvo narave, Slovenia Regionalna razvojna agencija Mura, Slovenia Prleška razvojna agencija GIZ, Slovenia Society of bird research and nature protection, Slovenia World Wide Fund for Nature Austria WWF Austria Administrative data: Project reference LIFE06 NAT/SI/ Duration 31-OCT-2006 to 31-OCT Total budget 1,975, EU contribution 969, Project location Associated Slovenia (SLO)(Slovenia Slovenija) Read more:

5 Project web site Project's website (SI/EN) Publication: Layman report Title: Layman report Year: 2011 Editor: Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia No of pages: 12 Publication: Pedagogical tool Title: "BIOMURA: From Oxbows to the River (Eco-educative trail)" Author: Milan Vogrin and Lidija Globevnik Year: 2010 Editor: Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia No of pages: 9 Publication: Technical report Title: Project's final technical report Year: 2012 No of pages: 65 Video link Link to the project's videos Project description Environmental issues Beneficiaries Administrative data Read more

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