The Bureau is very pleased to announce that Austria has named Lafnitztal (2,180 hectares, 47°15'N 016°05'E) as its 11th Wetland of International Importance. The interesting new site, which includes EC Directives Special Protection Areas, is a length of the Lafnitz river, formerly the international frontier with Hungary until the 20th century and presently the border between the states of Burgenland and Styria in the eastern part of the country, comprising numerous natural and semi-natural stretches over three-quarters of its length and an excellent example of freely meandering river. The length of the river sides and associated seasonally flooded agricultural land support a high species diversity, including otter (Lutra lutra), Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), and White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) and as much as 10% of the world population of fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina) and yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata), as well a number of rare and endangered plant species. The Ramsar Centre Lafnitztal visitors' center offers school courses and field excursions.
The Lafnitztal (Valley of River Lafnitz) in the southeast of Austria is the 11th Ramsar site of Austria. The "Weideverein" is the organization that made the LIFE-Nature-Projekt "River-Wilderness Lafnitz Valley" and "Cattle Management in the Meadows of the Wetland of Lafnitz". The picture shows the tractor and trailer made up for the harvest festival in October 2001 in Oberwart. The persons shown are (from left): Johann Krutzler, farmer and head of Weideverein, Wolfgang Pelikan, Ramsar Administrative Authority of Austria, Fritz Sommer and Josef Nöhrer, cattle managers in the wetlands. (Photo and caption by Dr Wolfgang Pelikan)