Danube Watch 1/2019 - A Fond Farewell and a Warm Welcome

a man holding a sign

After passing on the presidency of DANUBEPARKS in December 2018 to Vladko Ražac, Carl Manzano handed over the reins of the Donau-Auen National Park to to Edith Klauser in February 2019, ending two decades steering the future and development of the Park.

I n his 22 years of service, Mr. Manzano has guided the development and direction of the Donau-Auen National Park as Director. This first began long before the national park even existed, with passionate organisation against the building of a nuclear power plant in the area in the early 1980s. Years of working to preserve the river and the natural landscape here would eventually lead to efforts to establish a national park. Mr. Manzano strove tirelessly to convince the many stakeholders, especially the local public, of the worthwhile nature of such an endeavour, with the park coming into existence in 1996 and he being named as the first Director in 1997. Additionally, as president of the organisation DANUBEPARKS, he helped to create a Europe-wide, cross-border brand for nature conservation and oversaw the investment of over 10 million euros in Danube-wide initiatives toward the protection of ecosystems and the cultivation of nature tourism.

He was awarded the Golden Medal of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria, a fitting tribute to his years of dedicated commitment. On the occasion of this change of leadership, Mr. Manzano reflected, “I am very proud that I was able to participate in the planning and founding of the Donau-Auen National Park and that I was able to lead it until the end of 2018. This was the right task for me, which always gave me great pleasure. I would like to thank my team, which has worked excellently and supported me in this function, and all my companions.”

Over the years, the ICPDR and the Donau-Auen National Park have often collaborated and, in working toward the same goals, have acted to complement one another. Discussing the work of the National Park under Mr. Manzano, ICPDR Executive Secretary, Ivan Zavadsky said, “Both the ICPDR and the Donau-Auen National Park, with their long history of advocating higher environmental standards for the nature along and in the Danube, have given the world's most international river an exemplary framework for governance.”

Mr. Manzano's successor, Edith Klauser, is the first female to hold the position of Director of a national park in Austria and will continue the positive trajectory of the park along with setting its course in new and productive directions. “I am already looking forward to working together to preserve and protect our precious nature and biodiversity,” commented Elisabeth Köstinger, Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism, at the handover ceremony in February.

She went on to say that the immediate future will focus on international cooperation with neighbouring protected areas, giving DANUBEPARKS as a prominent and successful example of such a project initiated by the Donau-Auen National Park. Ivan Zavadsky made it clear that the continued focus on such cooperation is very much welcomed, stating that “for the ICPDR, the National Park and its close associate, DANUBEPARKS, are not only friends but also major contributors to the work of our organisation.”

The Donau-Auen National Park, extending 36 kilometres from Vienna to Bratislava along the Danube river and encompassing 9,600 hectares, is home to a wide range of plant and animal species. It is also very special to the people of the Vienna area. Stephen Pernkopf, of the Lower Austria LH-StV, explained that “the Donau-Auen National Park is a natural retreat and recreational area for thousands of Lower Austrians and Viennese at the same time and, therefore, a heart of our Green Ring around Vienna.”

Having studied botany, zoology, and hydrobiology, as well as having an established understanding of environmental management and business, Edith Klauser is well qualified to continue the work of the Donau-Auen National Park. Director Klauser herself reiterated the future development of the National Park, stating that “the aim is to preserve its treasures in the future together with its proven partners and in accordance with the National Park motto 'Precious Nature for Generations'.”