West Pannonian watercourses (eg. Répce, Gyöngyös, Pinka, Rába, Lapincs, Strém and the tributaries) are of outstanding natural conservation importance at European level and one of the richest areas of community importance in Central Europe. At the same time, the wildlife of the watercourses and wetlands of the border region is exposed to a variety of harmful human influences. River regulation to safeguard settlements against floods, pollution of different origins, habitat fragmentation caused by dams, the spread of invasive alien species are all threatening this unique biodiversity. Although these threats were already stated in the management plans of Nature 2000 sites, more information is needed on the distribution and population sizes of endangered habitats and species, as well as invasive alien species. The cross-border nature of these challenges is well illustrated by the fact that the spread of invasive plant and animal species of community importance is typically west-east and the spread and stocking of the species on the Hungarian side can be significantly influenced by interventions affecting the Austrian side of the border region. In order to preserve the biodiversity of the watercourses of the border region in the long term, more emphasis should be placed on the conservation of species and habitats and on the connectivity of protected areas. One prerequisite for this is the cross-border coordination of scientific and professionally grounded ecological research and expansion and enhancement of public awareness of nature conservation issues in the local community. In the project, the organizations responsible for water management is involved on both sides of the border as strategic partners can coordinate the operation of the two fields enabling the sustainable use of waters and wetlands.
The project will lead to the preservation of the Natura 2000 sites and their species and the creation of cross-border ecological corridors through ecological research the formulation of conservation management. Significant expansion of information is needed to achieve the points. So far, Rába, Pinka, Gyöngyös and Répce have been surveyed for habitats and species of community importance. Increasing the resolution of these data is necessary for the underlying register of natural values. However, there has been no survey of invasion species although this is one of the most significant threats to wildlife. There are hardly any data available on non-protected areas. The survey are carried out using a methodology developed jointly on the AT and HU sites. The GIS databases created as a result of the surveys provide the basis for the creation of the nature conservation values the further development of the Natura 2000 site management plan and the River Basin Management Plan, the action plan for the management of invasion species to develop a common management concept for cross-border ecological corridors. Evaluation of adverse human influences on watercourses is also planned. Investigation the efficacy of fish ladders which reduce the habitat fragmentation effect of the dams, can be used to justify their further development. With the help of the nature conservation - flood protection conflict map the operation of the two fields can be coordinated. The acquired knowledge is disseminated among young people through school sessions and an educational film. The planned training courses are aimed at deepening the knowledge of nature conservation professionals.