Danube-Auen National Park - Vienna, Austria

Danube-Auen National Park - Vienna, Austria
Area characterisation: 

Biogeographic region: Continental

Surface area: 93km² (city area)

Country: Austria

Region/Province: Vienna and Lower Austria

Donau-Auen National Park (German: Nationalpark Donau-Auen) covers 93 square kilometres in Vienna and Lower Austria and is one of the largest remaining floodplains of the Danube in Middle Europe.

Donau-Auen National Park has a rather unique position among the National Parks of Europe. The Park is situated in the east of Vienna, the capital city of Austria, with a population of 1.7 million. A large percentage of the national park's area lies within the city boundaries of Vienna (22nd district) and within the boundaries of Groß-Enzersdorf, a small municipality in Lower Austria. Settlements and areas of intensive agriculture surround the park.

During the major river engineering phase for the Danube between 1870 and 1885, this former dynamic floodplain has been disconnected from the main channel by the construction of a flood protection levee. Lateral embankments along the main river channel have severely altered the geomorphic and hydrological dynamics and have impeded the natural sequence of erosion and sedimentation (Hein et al. 2006; Hohensinner et al. 2008). Nowadays, the floodplain can be separated into two subareas (Upper and Lower Lobau) that differ considerably in their ecological characteristics.

Despite the hydrological deficits, the Lower Lobau still harbours a diverse and complex mosaic of aquatic, semiaquatic, and terrestrial habitats, resulting in a high biodiversity. Therefore, the Lower Lobau is an integral part of the “Nationalpark Donau-Auen” since 1996 and was designated a Natura 2000 area by the EU. Beyond the ecological value, the Lower Lobau plays a central role in the landscape water balance. It serves as an important drinking water reservoir for the City of Vienna. The protection of the floodplains gained in importance compared to the use as a recreation area, which for decades had been the major focus.


The Danube-Auen National Park in Vienna aims to multiple ecosystem services combine with trees with regulating services, such as water protection, retention, carbon sequestration, and micro, local, and regional climate regulation.

The National Park fosters an environment providing habitats and biodiversity for animal and plant species to enhance supporting ecosystem functions.

The National Park’s blue and green infrastructure further aims to provide cultural functions by offering open spaces for recreational value, allowing urban dwellers to find aesthetic pleasure, a sense of place and inspiration.


PRINCIPLE UF-NbS (Urban Forests as Nature-Based Solutions) ACTION(S)

  • A "green ribbon" connecting the conurbations of Vienna and Bratislava;
  • The largest complete, (near) ecologically intact natural riverine environment of its kind in Central Europe;
  • Characterised by the nearly free-flowing Danube, which here retains the character of an alpine stream;
  • An interplay of ecosystems which exhibit an enormous variety of habitats, plant and animal species;
  • Home and refuge to many endangered plant and animal species;
  • Impresses with its great natural beauty;
  • Natural retention area for floodwaters;
  • Guarantee for high-quality drinking water resources;
  • So-called "green lung" and climactic regulator for the region;
  • Recreational area for the population


  • Encourage engagement of citizen with local green and green initiatives;
  • Provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational, and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible
NbS benefits 
  • Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience
  • Flood peak reduction
  • Increase infiltration / Water storage
  • Reduce flood risk
  • Developing climate change mitigation
  • Carbon sequestration and storage
  • Restoring ecosystems and their functions
  • Greater ecological connectivity across urban regenerated sites
  • Improve connectivity and functionality of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increase achievements of biodiversity targets
  • Increase Biodiversity
  • Increase quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
  • Increased cultural richness and biodiversity
  • Increase well-being
  • Provision of health benefits
Lessons learned: 

The Donau-Auen National Park preserves the last remaining major wetlands environment in Central Europe, which illustrate the importance of its preservation. Management and activities of the park show how important and challenging is to balance between different demands of protection, recreation, and urban expansion.


National government funds:

The Donau-Auen National Park extends over two federal states and is jointly supported by the federal government. The organization and financing of the national park is regulated in an agreement according to Art. 15a B-VG between the federal government and the states of Vienna and Lower Austria.

Private sector investment:

The Donau-Auen National Park has partners from the business world who have helped support the work of the National Park for years. Some provide financial support, others participate in joint projects, while yet others even send their employees on work assignments in the great outdoors.
All of these efforts are invaluable and essential to the National Park, which is financed solely through public means.

Some of partners: Ströck, Donau Versicherung, Swarowski Optik

International funds:

EU projects (Interreg)

NbS classification 
  • Wetlands - Riparian Forests (softwood and hardwood)
  • Slope forests
  • Riverbank green
  • Urban forest
  • Retention basin
  • Urban grassland
  • Green playgrounds

DI Edith Klauser

National Park Director

Telefon +43 2212/3450


Further information

The compilation of this case study description has been funded by the Horizon 2020 CLEARING HOUSE project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821242.

Sustainable Development Goals 
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 15. Life On Land
Key Performance Indicators: