Interreg Danube Project IDES

IDES - Improving water quality in the Danube river and its tributaries by integrative floodplain management based on Ecosystem Services


National governments have clearly committed to reducing nutrient loads transported by the Danube in order to ensure and enhance its ecological status. The challenge of reducing the eutrophication of the Danube and its tributaries, and thus of the Black Sea, can only be solved by transnational basin-wide cooperation. Near natural floodplains or buffer strips carry high potential to significantly reduce nutrient pollution, but floodplains are subject to multiple human uses that strongly affect the water quality of rivers. So far, these uses have been managed on a sectoral basis (e.g. flood retention, nature conservation, agriculture), rarely regarding water quality and interactions between sectors.
The ecosystem services concept valuates the services that nature offers for human well-being. Taking into account all relevant ecosystem services, a multi-functional and sustainable water and floodplain management can be established. The implementation and awareness of the ecosystem service approach are varying widely in the Danube region, but so far have never been used pro-actively for spatial planning or as an official part of planning or permission procedures. The use of a River Ecosystem Service Index in Germany ( has shown that water management significantly improves if synergies between various Ecosystem services, which reflect the various sectoral interests and targets, are identified.


The IDES project aims to develop and implement a transnational integrative ecosystem service approach to improve water quality management and thus to generate win-win-situations for multifunctional floodplains instead of trade-offs. The IDES tool should enable the national key actors in water quality management to identify the most sustainable measures without neglecting the needs of other sectors. The innovative IDES tool will provide an ecosystem service assessment for floodplains that support sustainable decision making in floodplain management, both in pilot areas and on the transnational level.

IDES approach – Main steps

  1. Analysis of the actual situation of water quality and its pressures and of ecosystem services in the whole Danube region by geographical explicit models, GIS analysis and literature review. Harmonization of different approaches and joint development of the framework of an ecosystem service evaluation tool (IDES tool) based on these enquiries.
  2. Stakeholder workshops in five pilot areas in Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Romania where innovative water quality management concepts will be elaborated and assessed using the newly developed IDES tool. The results and experiences in the implementation of the IDES tool will be summarized in the IDES manual and transferred to key actors of the participating countries during national training courses.
  3. Joint development of a transnational strategy providing the operational pathway to integrate the ecosystem service approach in future water quality planning processes. Feedback from a transnational stakeholder workshop will help to fine-tune the IDES tool and strategy in the final phase and to foster its implementation.

Lead Partner

Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt (Germany)

Project Partners

  • Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (Germany)
  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (Austria)
  • University of Bucharest (Romania)
  • WWF Romania (Romania)
  • Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests (Romania)
  • Middle Tisza District Water Directorate (Hungary)
  • Slovenia Forest Service, Central Unite Ljubljana (Slovenia)
  • Institute for water of the Republic of Slovenia (Slovenia)
  • Climate, Atmosphere and Water Research Institute at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (Bulgaria)
  • Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad, Department of Water Management (Serbia)

Associated Strategic Partners

  • Commission for the Protection of Danube River
  • International Sava River Basin Commission
  • Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Consumer Protection (Germany)
  • State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
  • National Institute for Hydrology and Water Management (Romania)
  • General Directorate of Water Management (Hungary)
  • Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province (Serbia)
  • Association "Global Water Partnership-Bulgaria" (Bulgaria)
  • Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (Austria)
  • via donau - Austrian Federal Waterway Administration (Austria)
  • Danube floodplain National Park (Austria)
  • Fisheries Research Institute of Slovenia (Slovenia)
  • WWF Adria - Association for the protection of nature and conservation of biological diversity (Croatia)
  • EcoContact P.A. (Moldavia)


The project IDES is co-funded through the Danube Transnational Programme of the European Union (ERDF and IPA funds). The project started on 1st July 2020 and lasts until the 31st December 2022. The total budget of the project is 1,951,170 €, divided between 11 full partners. The Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt as lead partner coordinates the overall project.

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