Austrian Committee Danube Research
International Association for Danube Research

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History

Danube riverbank
View from a helicopter

Presidency Reinhard Liepolt (1976-1983)

Liepolt strived to establish the International Association for Danube Research (IAD), which was founded in 1956, on the national level. Early talks with experts in science, economy and administration to join in common interests started in 1975. This was absolutely innovative at this time - and has not lost any attraction even today. The statues for an association "Austrian National Committee - International Association for Danube Research ÖN-IAD)" were laid out soon:

The "Austrian National Committee - International Association for Danube research" was officially constituted on February 25, 1976. Liepolt was to become the first president. By integration of regional and national administrative bodies and water-related branches of industry the integration of science and practice sought by Liepolt was finally reached. At the same time the financial basis for ÖN-IAD was secured.

For the first time Liepolt could raise a nation-wide interest for research on the Danube River and its tributaries, and on running waters in general. Within ÖN-IAD a first research concept was prepared to start an interdisciplinary study on the power plant impoundment Altenwörth, which is an important stretch of the Danube in Austria. After some years of effort and through support by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research the proposal "Ecosystem Study Impoundment Altenwörth" was submitted to the MaB - commission of the Austrian Academy of Science (ÖAW). Having reached the proposed level of integration between science and practice and having succeeded in providing a strong financial basis for research at the Danube in Austria Liepolt saw his aims finally reached and retired from presidency in 1983.

Presidency Werner Kohl (1983-1996)

In 1984 the contract was signed for the "Ecosystem Study Impoundment Altenwörth". The project was financed by the ÖAW and the Österreichische Donaukraftwerke AG (today: Austro Hydro Power - Verbund) and other members of the ÖN-IAD. Results of research were published in several issues of current publications of ÖAW. Regarding the scientific content and the individual personal engagement this project was carried out by members of ÖN-IAD. For the first time in Austria basic ecological problems of a Large River were studied on a common basis built by different scientific fields. The synoptic analysis of this multidisciplinary study revealed important results, which were the basis of discussions on the proposed construction of a hydro-electric power plant at Hainburg. In the process of officially adjourning this idea by the Austrian government further important results on the functioning of the river ecosystem were collected in the "Interdisciplinary Study Danube". It provided answers to important questions much discussed at that time and it was performed almost entirely by members of ÖN-IAD.

Following intensive preparation within ÖN-IAD the Federal Ministry of Science and Research launched a pilot study in the reach of the river not any more threatened by a power plant construction, which was funded through the "East-West-Program". Based on that activity two years later the interdisciplinary research project "Ecotones Danube - Morava" was funded, and started, by the MaB-Commission of ÖAW.

In connection with the discussions about the planned hydropower plant in Hainburg and the creation of the Danube National Park after cancellation of the construction three Symposia were held at the University of Vienna regarding these issues (planning and organisation of the symposia by G. Janauer).

During the presidency of Kohl over 30 small research projects were funded by ÖN-IAD. Taxonomic keys for some aquatic macroinvertebrate groups are included here, which are in use now in graduate student education as well as in the practice of water quality assessment. Symposia, courses, workshops, and excursions, and scientific publications served the aims of ÖN-IAD in this period. During Kohl’s presidency the "Reinhard Liepolt Award for Danube Research" was created, and the publication series "Danube Information" was started. During the Kohl’s presidency the IAD Board of National Representatives decided to establish the Expert Group Macrophytes under the leadership of G. Janauer. Kohl retired from presidency in 1996.

Presidency Werner Schiel (1997-2002)

At the turn of the last decade in the 20th century political changes in the Danube catchment restricted the sphere of action of the IAD and ÖN-IAD had to enhance its autonomous character. In spring 1995 the congress "Large Rivers" was held in Krems and many international presentations, even on the Amazon River and on water bodies in New Zealand, were among the contributions. The well-known Freshwater Biological Association (UK) supported this event in several respects. Contributions were published in the international journal Archive of Hydrobiology, Supplement Large Rivers. In autumn 1997 the Annual Congress of IAD was organised by ÖN-IAD, and held at the Centre of Biology (University of Vienna, UZA I – Althanstraße).

In 1998 the "Reinhard Liepolt Award" was presented for a taxonomic key on trichoptera, and in 2000 it was presented for the limnological investigation on oxbows of the River Danube and for a book on the grayling.

In co-operation with the ÖAW the ÖN-IAD organised a symposium in "Water Quality Research in the New Danube", which presented results of ten years of research. The New Danube is probably unique in the world, as it serves as flood control by-pass channel and as recreation area of more than 21 km length in the centre of an urban cluster. All contributions were presented by members of ÖN-IAD. At the same symposium the most important results of the MaB-project "Ecotones Danube - Morava" were presented and published. Several other research studies were funded by ÖN-IAD in this period, e.g. about eutrophication and about macrozoobenthos. In 1998 the "Pilot Study Danube" was funded. It was a feasibility study on the assessment of macrophytes and their habitat conditions along the full length of the Danube River and partners from almost all Danube countries took part in it. The final project "Macrophytes, River Corridor, Land Use, Habitats: a multifunctional study in the Danube catchment based on a GIS-approach" (short title: Macrophyte Inventory Danube - Corridor and Catchment - MIDCC) was then funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. It is based on the principles of the Expert Group Macrophytes of IAD and merges partners from - so far - ten Danube countries for the period 2001 - 2005. In a period of internal re-definition of the ÖN-IAD Schiel retired from presidency in 2002.

Presidency Georg Janauer (since 2002)

Janauer accepted the presidency of ÖN-IAD in a phase of intensive discussion about the internal structure and the necessity to adapt the statues, which were not in accord with the real practice since a long time. An editorial group worked out an extensive amended version of the statues in accordance with the new legal regulations for associations under Austrian law. The name of the Austrian association was changed to "Austrian Committee for Danube Research - IAD - SIL" as the Austrian branch of IAD had a good deal of international scientific connections started and often funded by its own resources in the past and considers to do so in the future. Its acronym was changed to "AC - IAD" (in the homepage address still the old address is present). In 2006 AC - IAD received the official status of a "non-profit organisation by the regulations of the Austrian Financial LAW" that allows donators to assert donations for tax reduction.

Following a lengthy and complicated layout process the results of the "Ecotones Danube - Morava" project were published in the MaB-series of the ÖAW. This book reveals insight on aspects on the ecology of the main river channel, floodplain water bodies and riparian vegetation in a new, integrated way. AC - IAD had paved the way for designing the scientific structure and strategy of this multiyear project and had funded its starting period.

The results of the Pilot Study Danube were published in a Special Issue of the Archive of Hydrobiology, Supplement Large Rivers. Eighteen chapters present a first glimpse on the aquatic vegetation and its habitat composition between Germany and the Danube Delta. Since 2002 several more, but smaller research projects could be funded by AC - IAD.

Regarding the IAD members of AC - IAD got involved in the process of establishing IAD as an association under Austrian law. By this step a solid legal basis was prepared for IAD, the mother organisation of the AC. Regarding the 50th anniversary of the foundation of IAD the AC - IAD has volunteered to organise the international conference in 2006. At present the preparation for the Second Circular is under process. Many pre-registrations and many abstracts have been submitted already.