WWF-Auen-Institut publishes atlas of the Oder

18/05/2001

The Floodplains Institute of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Auen-Institut) in Rastatt (a small German town in the floodplain of the Upper Rhine) has published a stunning, A3-sized, 3 kg-heavy atlas of the entire Oder/Odra floodplain from the Czech Republic downstream through Poland and Germany to the Baltic Sea. Back in 1996, WWF embarked on a project to prepare a baseline inventory of the natural floodplain infrastructures and biodiversity-relevant habitats and ecosystems. This was done in the context of emerging plans to develop the Oder/Odra river as a major navigation route, including a planned Danube-March-Odra canal. WWF compiled baseline data about the hydrological and biodiversity functions of the entire Odra floodplain in order to inventory the existing values and functions and to prevent potential environmentally very damaging impacts of planned river engineering works.

After the exceptional floods of summer 1997, the issue of flood prevention and retention through natural infrastructures and restored habitats became of even higher significance. The positive experiences with the newly published "Rhine Atlas" (1998) convinced the scientific team of the Auen-Institut to transfer their know-how to the East and to publish a similar inventoauen-oder-atlas.jpg (38557 bytes)ry for the Odra with the help and data of many knowledgeable Czech and Polish colleagues. Now, the Odra Floodplain Atlas (Oder-Auen-Atlas) -- with over 50 maps at the scale of 1:50,000, providing information on wetland habitats and types, water management infrastructures and specific forms of land-use, including data of the 1997 inundation areas -- provides an inestimable source of objective information, necessary to take the right decisions to integrate wetland conservation into river basin and water management in the framework of a sustainable river basin development plan, as required by the new EU Water Framework-Directive or the UN-ECE Conventions on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and on EIAs in a Transboundary Context.

The multilateral team of 25 or so scientists, the Polish Ministry of the Environment, its National Foundation for the Environment and Water Management, and the sponsors Gerling Insurances Ltd. and Lower Silesian Foundation for Ecological Development (Dolnoslaska Fundacja Ekorozwoju) are to be congratulated for the production of this important trilingual document in Polish, German and Czech. For further information, contact the WWF-Auen-Institut, Josefstr. 1, D-76437 Rastatt, Germany.

-- reported by Tobias Salathé, Regional Coordinator for Europe

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