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Special Edition - Sustainable tourism in the Danube Region

1 | 2014

the magazine for the danube countries

connects danube

Travelling differently! Sustainable tourism along the Danube

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How sustainable and environmentally friendly is river cruising?.........4–6


Three questions for Vladimir Djumic.....6

SHARING THE DANUBE COMMON HISTORIC AND CULTURAL HERITAGE.........................................7




The EU project promotes train, bus, bike and boat traffic....................................8–9


Is the aim of the project Donauwandel between Black Forest and Black Sea.......................................10–11


The Danubiana network wants to raise understanding for the Strategy for the Danube Region.................................12


From Donaueschingen to Sulina, 2857 km of ribbon are being crocheted..........................................13


WWF fights for the protection of Danube floodplains and sustainable ship traffic.......................................14–15


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Asks Magdalena Wagner of the Donauauen Nature Park...16–17


For Angelica and Günther Krämer, it’s hikers’ paradise....................18–19


An internet platform brings together city dwellers and farmers.................20


Bratislava Bike Point rents bikes to tourists.......................................20–21


The Vaser Valley Railway is a special attraction in Maramures‚ ..................21


The oeuvre of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncus‚i,...................22–23





Dear Readers,


danube connects now on Facebook!

oes the topic of sustainable tourism play any role at all along

the Danube? What we found out is: yes! It may be far from playing a

major role, but for our new issue, we have collected numerous interesting examples that show what is happening in the Danube countries in this regard.

From Farmhopping in Bulgaria (p. 20) and the Transdanube project of the Danube Office Ulm/Neu-Ulm (p. 8) to the Da-

nube parks (p. 16) or river cruises on the Danube

We offer information and images from the international press on politics, tourism and culture in the Danube region. Furthermore, we keep you on track about the Danube Strategy and the various events alongside the Danube. Come and take a look!

(p. 4): All participants stand up for tourism in

the Danube countries that is as sustainable and

environmentally friendly as possible. That’s also what the tour operator “Lustwandeln” has committed itself to: the passionate hikers Angelica

and Günther Krämer have long been offering guided hiking tours in Romania and along the German Danube. And if it’s impossible to continue on foot, they rely on the bus or train (p.18).

A lot of time will pass before this topic will finally dare to leave its niche.

Time will also be needed before travellers’ conscience changes and sustainable tourism is also offered by large tour operators. To this end, convin-

cing will have to be done in a lot of places, and a lot of understanding for each other will be required. But the most important thing is: a start has been made.

You want to share interesting information on the Danube region? Just send a link to

We wish you much pleasure reading this issue.


Andrea Toll & Sabine Geller

the magazine for the danube countries

danube connects

Tel. +49 (0)731 153 75 05 Fax +49 (0)731 153 75 06

Editors in chief and initiators

he way: the ships also stock along the Danube.

more passengers and more more staff. While the hotel n board tend to be Germans, r Swiss, the cabin stewards, ersonnel and non-skilled ainly come from Eastern I states that the hotel crew utical staff primarily come ary, Slovakia, Romania and ady, a shortage is becoming articularly among captains, men and the staff in the en“Where will we find new ” IG River Cruise wonders iately provides the answer: ch all over Europe, focusern European countries like nd Bulgaria.” Together with ciations, IG River Cruise ed a Europe-wide initiative e the training of nautical Grammerstorf concludes: excellent job opportunities anube.”

the AMADEUS fleet of Lüftner Cruises also bear the Green Globe certification label. It requires verifiable energy and water saving measures on board as well as a sense of ecological responsi-

“The river cruises depend on conveying beautiful holiday experiences in an intact natural environment.” bility in corporate routine. Each ship is examined carefully by independent inspectors every two years to make sure it actually implements the certification criteria. At an average, 250 people per ship, including staff, produce garbage

gation on the Danube) and its currently running follow-up project CO-WANDA (Convention for Waste Management for Inland Navigation on the Danube) are developing practical solutions for a regulated and environmentally safe waste disposal along the Danube. The lead partner is the Austrian Waterway Company viadonau. From June to September 2013, 160 ships participated in a pilot test of an electronic vignette system. After an online registration, the ships received a vignette free of charge and could dispose of their oily and greasy ship waste at predefined waste collection points in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. The technical solutions ranged from

t the sustainability and enl impact of a Danube rivG River Cruise has a very point of view: “The river end on conveying beautiful Great job opportunities on board for staff from the Danube countries periences in an intact natument.” Operators owning fleet, like TUI or Lüftner, and wastewater every day. The most suction vehicles in Austria to fixed very aware of this insight. modern ships have an on-board sew- collection sites in Slovakia and mohemselves as pioneers and age treatment plant and cold storage bile collection boats in Romania easons for this opinion: As rooms for the waste. But the harbours and Bulgaria. In the Romanian har90, TUI appointed an envi- along the Danube still lack a sufficient bours Galati and Tulcea, a web interagent; it compensates the number of waste collection stations; face for booking the waste collection ons of flights, certifies ho- this concerns greasy waste from vessel service in a non-bureaucratic way of late, river cruise ships as operation, but also common domestic was tested in October and November eports that its most recent waste, packaging and leftovers. Fur- 2013. The pilot actions in Hungary conAllegra and TUI Melodia, thermore, there is not yet a Europe-wide centrated on information transfer (Rivequirements of the “Green standardised hose coupler system at er Information Services) between ships dard”. Green Globe is one of the disposal points, like the one inter- and disposal stations. In Serbia, the leading certification bodies nationally implemented on the Rhine. aim is to develop an application that makes controlling ship waste disposal able tourism and a subsidsation of the UNO World The cross-border project WANDA easier for authorities and helps to prerganisation. The ships in (Waste Management for Inland Navi- vent illegal waste disposal. Currently, danube connects 01 I 14


In strong demand: captains on the Danube

the results from the pilot actions are being evaluated and will provide a basis for CO-WANDA’s work. The ambitious aim is to develop an International Ship Waste Convention on the Danube. How can the passengers themselves contribute to sustainable and environmentally sound cruising on the Danube? Lüftner Cruises provides an example worth imitating: In cooperation with the climate protection organisation atmosfair, guests of the AMA-

DEUS ships can compensate their CO2 emissions during the cruise with a donation of 2 euro per day and cabin. The company supports the project with an additional donation of 25 percent of the amount paid by the guests. A small personal contribution for a great cause. Thomas Zehender, journalist, Ulm

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN SERBIA According to the Unesco „Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and is a major source of income for many countries. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides many jobs which have helped revitalise local economies. A special part of tourism is sustainable tourism. It is becoming so popular that some say that what we presently call ‚alternative‘ will be the ‚mainstream‘ in a decade.“ danube connects asked Vladimir Djumic about sustainable tourism in Serbia. What exactly is sustainable tourism in your opinion? Djumic: Sustainable tourism for me is a minimalistic concept – simple but quality service, accommodation, food and sightseeing, for a realistic price – combining local players and local values and resources. It is nowadays a very frequently used word, but very few people are sure about the meaning of sustainable tourism. Which tools or models help to achieve a sustainable tourism? There are no unified or universal models. Every local community should develop its own according to their geo-political and socio-economic situa-


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tion. The best way is to learn as much as possible about a local community and its possibilities, capacities, levels of knowledge and then start with combining all of that in order to create one competitive product they can sell on the open market and constantly educate people about the possibilities and follow the best practice and examples from similar areas. What are the major challenges for sustainable tourism in Serbia? Lack of knowledge and corruption. As knowledge is growing it is obvious that there are more and more people who started with organic food production, or at least human production, and

small animal husbandry. When more and more people will learn about the possibilities for relaxing weekends in the villages, 100 km radius from bigger cities, more and more people will realise that it is a chance for them to become small manufacturers and more and more people will move from big cities to villages in order to live a better life. Corruption is a problem because there is no extra money in sustainable tourism; it is a program for people, but the decision makers, unfortunately, favour bigger projects, expensive construction works on hotels and resorts, and are not willing to support small scale projects because they cannot “fit in”. Kata Toth, journalist Djumic works as an expert at „JustGo“, mostly as a consultant in tourism and marketing, runs the Camping Association of Serbia, and recently finished his contract as project manager in the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia.

Culture Apatin - plans for the old fishing factory transformation into a Danube museum.

The Danube can be described from so many different perspectives: geographic, economic, historic and certainly from a cultural viewpoint. In order to help valorise the cultural dimension and make public the rich cultural heritage of the Danube, the municipality of Apatin has initiated a regeneration programme for an old fishing factory located at the river bank, the aim being to transform it into a Danube Museum. The main purpose of the programme is to get interested institutions and organizations together so as to transform the dilapidated facility into a new meeting point for an intercultural Danube Euroregion and contribute to the Danube Strategy priorities. Apatin’s long-term municipal development strategy is clearly oriented towards sustainable conservation of natural resources and the further development of tourism destinations in the border areas of Upper Danube. Apart from being an important navigation and tourist site, Apatin has also been known as one of the most attractive locations for freshwater fishing since the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Together with the local public company for forest preservation that is responsible for land and property management, a regional project called the Danube Museum has been prepared with the aim to preserve and valorise the rich cultural, natural and ecological heritage in this part of Europe, along the Danube connecting the neighbours Croatia and Serbia. The intention is to create a regional cultural institution as a meeting and permanent exhibition point of the natural and cultural heritage linking the history and present of the people living in this area of the Upper Danube. Therefore, the goal is not only to collect, conserve, scientifically process and display historic artefacts, but even more to enable the Danube Museum to operate as a modern information and training centre offering a wide range of educational and touristic programmes that familiarise the widest public with the natural and cultural heritage of the Upper Danube. To this end, initial contacts have already been established with potential partners in adjacent cross-border areas, protected biosphere reserves and

Sharing the Danube’s common historic and cultural heritage similar museums along the Danube – in Germany (Ulm), Croatia and Hungary. The establishment of the Danube Museum in Apatin was brought forward as the result of the co-operation with the Ulm Museum as an interested and potential partner in creating a Euroregional network of the Danube museums, whose main mission would be to preserve and cherish the rich historic and multicultural heritage of the Danube basin. Evidence shows that as early as 1748, the first German settlers came to Apatin and left significant traces of their economic activities in the municipality. Useful knowledge share and cross-Danube contacts have been established with Slovenian and Croatian local governments in order to implement similar projects. A particular emphasis lies on creating a partnership for the collaborative application of European funds. In many ways, the Danube Museum in Apatin would further contribute not only to preserving the cultural

and natural heritage of the area, but also to strengthening the participation of the local self-government in various Europe-wide co-operation programmes in which Serbia is also included: the European Heritage Days, Days of the Danube, the World Museum Day, National Night of Museums, International Festival of the Danube Region, Apatin fishermen nights, Sculpture meetings “Meander”, International Fair “Tradition for the Future“ and others. Ms. Radmila Savčić, curator and art historian, Apatin and Ms. Snežana Milešević, Head of the Local Economic Development Office, Municipality of Apatin.

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TRANSDANUBE – Sustainable Mobility in the Danube Region In Germany and Austria, it’s slowly, but surely becoming a trend – in other Danube countries, it’s still in its infancy: sustainable mobility in tourism. The EU project Transdanube aims at promoting travel by train, bus, bike and ship in the Danube region, and thus soft mobility in tourism along the Danube. Project coordinators Petra Katzorke and Petra Dippold of the Danube Office Ulm/Neu-Ulm told danube connects about the state of affairs.

15 partners from nine Danube countries have got together to further develop tourism on the Danube through sustainable mobility, establishing the river as an attractive destination for tourists. What are Transdanube’s practical goals? “Based on a detailed situational analysis, our partners develop all-inclusive tourism offers for their region. In doing so, they focus on ships, trains, buses and bikes as means of transport”, Dippold explains. In May, the first products should be ready to book, combining different elements of tourism with the use of sustainable means of transport. Many interesting destinations in the Danube region are still only to be reached by car, including nature parks. “That’s why it would be desirable to be able to get there with sustainable means of transport”, says Katzorke. In a project on the scale of Transdanube, light bulb moments are bound to occur sooner or later. “We realized that many Danube countries still have a completely different understanding of mobility than we have, say, in Germany or Austria”, reports Petra Katzorke, who coor-


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dinates the project with Petra Dippold: “When people in Romania ride a bike, that is more likely to mean they can’t afford a car rather than that they see biking as a sporting activity.”

Cooperation with “Lustwandeln” Other than the project partners, the Danube Office does not focus on developing tourist offers, and yet, a cooperation with the tour operator “Lustwandeln” has arisen from the project. During the International Danube Festival in Ulm, Transdanube and “Lustwandeln” will offer a guided hiking tour in the Lone valley in combination with bus and railway (for more information on “Lustwandeln”, see page 18).

Interactive Map of the Danube Region What are the tasks of the Danube Office? Besides presenting Transdanube at international events, it is in charge of creating an interactive map of the Danube region. “What‘s new about the

map is that it offers both information on sightseeing highlights such as museums and historical monuments, and at the same time information about how to get there and on-site mobility, including routing and links to the websites of matching transportation providers. That allows visitors of the site to find out quickly and clearly how they can reach their destination by ship, train, bus, bike or on foot”, Petra Dippold explains. “Like that, Danube tourists can plan their tour along the river in an optimal way.” Data from Open Street Map provides the basis for the sightseeing and mobility spots. Additionally, the partners enter information about sights and transportation. “Currently, some data is still missing, but the map works flawlessly, so that we can start the online version at the beginning of March”, Katzorke clarifies the state of affairs. A rating system will be introduced to control which spots on the map have insufficient or out-dated descriptions. “If spots often receive bad ratings, we

know that something is wrong and our partners have the opportunity to make corrections accordingly”, says Petra Dippold. On the Road with the Tour Book What‘s more, visitors to the map can create a tour book. “That‘s a situation everybody knows: You‘ve spent hours surfing the net, but can‘t remember what exactly you‘ve looked at. With the tour book, users have a practical result of their research on hand that they can use for their tours”, Petra Katzorke explains the basic idea of the tour book, which is scheduled to be available as of May.

Transdanube meeting in Vidin

The project coordinators realize that there‘s a lot of development potential for the map. “But it‘s quite evident that we won‘t be able to put all ideas into practice during the project, which only lasts from October 2012 to September 2014”, Dippold emphasizes and Katzorke adds: “It‘s really important to us that the map always stays up-to-date and is further developed even after the end of the project.” A follow-up project is already in preparation. For it will take years to make real the vision of establishing sustainable mobility as a part of tourism in the Danube region. Katzorke and Dippold hope that many cooperation partners in the whole Danube region will join forces to make this area an interesting travel destination that all tourists can access and experience with innovative types of mobility. Andrea Toll, danube connects

Main Aims and Results at a Glance n State-of-the-art report on sustai-

nable mobility in the Danube region n Regional action plans

n Practical sustainable transport

offers and packages n Digital map as a transnational

information system n Marketing strategy for sustainable mobility in tourism in the Danube region

Facts and Figures Support programme: Interreg IVB South East Europe Lead Partner: Environment Agency (AT) Project partners: 15 from 9 countries Project duration: October 2012 to September 2014 Project budget: 2,37 million Euro ·

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The project Donauwandel “Danube change” roams the region between the Black Forest and the Black Sea, searching for civil society initiatives that promote positive change in the region and accompany it sustainably. Donauwandel: meeting in Ruse, Bulgaria

Shaping change When people talk about the Danube as a European river, they often mean more than just its geographical location. In his poem “Am Quell der Donau” (At the Source of the Danube), Friedrich Hölderlin points out that rivers are connecting elements between different culture and language areas. Almost three centuries later, the author Claudio Magris calls the Danube the only truly European river: “It reflects domes, cathedrals and synagogues, baroque and Ottoman splendour.” Magris’ idea of what is European also targets diversity. But as a link between culture areas, the Danube is only a symbol. Exchange between the cultures within this region must be sought and carried out actively by people. That is what the project Donauwandel is all about. Where along the Danube are there processes of change and where do they present an opportunity? In 2012,


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these questions marked the beginning of the project, which is funded by the Agapedia, Liebenau and Baden-Württemberg foundations. The main goal is to encourage and support cooperation and networking among local initiatives, above all in social affairs and in the area of youth exchange. “Our motive was to activate people along the Danube to communicate with each other and get to know the natural and cultural environment”, project coordinator Tobias Faltermeier summarises. To discover the Danube region as an area of participatory processes, the participants met in several forums in cities along the river. The first of these forums took place in Ulm in the summer of 2013; Osijek in Croatia, Novi Sad in the North of Serbia and Bulgarian Ruse followed. The central topics of the meetings were social entrepreneurship, education and youth work, concentrating on practical experience and insight into local projects.

Different solutions for similar problems

Raimar Wagner of the Diakonisches Werk (the social welfare organisation of the Lutheran Church) Romania explains how such an international exchange can ensure the survival of civil organisations. As a representative of the network of Romanian social NGOs, he is also familiar with the problems that local initiatives face. Accessing EU support programmes is a challenge, especially in young and new accession countries. For instance, Serbia’s planned EU accession in 2020 forces many projects to restructure their finances because direct national sponsorship will fall away. In all four cities in which the forums were held, Wagner met with representatives of social projects from each respective region. “A lot of creativity and ideas are needed, particularly when it comes to obtaining EU funding. The problems are similar, but there are different approaches to solving them. Exchange in this area was truly invaluable.” In this context, Donauwandel


sent a strong signal to the EU to integrate more social aspects into its Danube Strategy and to make funding accessible for local projects. Civilian engagement depends on identification with one’s own living environment. In this context, ecology, conservation and revitalisation of natural areas always play a role. The programme of Donauwandel also reflects these topics. In Ruse, Srdjan Stankovic presented the Serbian project Supernatural, which lobbies for the rehabilitation of the ecosystem on Ada Huja. The former island was connected to the mainland through large-scale waste dumping. It has since been used almost exclusively as an industrial site. In contrast, Stankovic and the NGO he leads advance the vision “from dump to park” for the area. The organisation has already started to revegetate parts of the terrain. The project further includes a festival in summer, which is supposed to raise awareness for the issue.

Building bridges

For Donauwandel project coordinator Faltermeier, the fact that civil society initiatives like Supernatural play a role in a Europe-wide context is nothing

new. “Although the term ‘civil society’ has only recently appeared on the political agenda, active citizens have existed for a long time. Historically, it was civil society that pushed the system change in Eastern Europe.” But still, civil involvement along the Danube has different characteristics – and different levels of political support. In Bulgaria, where Faltermeier has been living and working for five years, only one social foundation existed in 1989. “A few years ago, many people here seemed resigned. But lately, the population has become increasingly active, a development proven by current political developments in Bulgaria.” Since 2013, there have been continuous protests in the capital Sofia against corruption, a widespread phenomenon in Bulgaria.

the foundation of which has already been laid. In the Serbian town of Kač, the participants visited a project that is converting an old mill into a youth centre. Exchange with the initiators inspired Croatian Breza, a Donauwandel participant mainly working with socially disadvantaged children in Croatia, to start a similar project. For Europe’s much-quoted diversity currently also means different levels of prosperity, which result in problems especially for the younger generation. By bringing together the young generation and strengthening the civil potential on national level, Donauwandel contributes to highlighting diversity and at the same time bridging unequal opportunities. Carolin Krahl, journalist A project of Agapedia-Stiftung, supported by

Donauwandel’s pilot phase will end in summer 2014. Until then, two further forums will take place. In May, there will be a meeting in Romania, the project thus reaching the estuary of the Danube. Later, all stakeholders will once again gather in Furtwangen for a large forum of reflexion and planning about the continuation of the project. One of the long-term goals is establishing a Danube Youth Forum, danube connects 01 I 14


Civil Society

I feel Danubian

There is a growing tendency to strengthen regionality within the European Union. This is manifested in the growing number of macro-regional strategies including one for the centre (Danube region), one for the north (Baltic Sea), which already exist and the one for the south (Adriatic-Ionian) which is in the making. Danubiana project launch event “Building Bridges of Democracy“ in Budapest in October 2013

The strengthened regional approach of the European Union is seen as a possible way to increase the ownership feeling of citizens towards their closer environment they live in and the European community in general. In our understanding this is the main goal of these strategies: to bring the European Union closer to the citizens through concrete policies and international cooperation. Currently the implementation of these strategies is mainly done through the governments of the participating member states. The goal of the Danubiana Network, which is a civil society project supported by the European Commission, is to complement this top-down government-led process through a bottom-up approach and add a personal touch of civil society organisations to it through the organisation of different actions with the involvement of citizens. Currently the Danubiana Network has civil society members from nine EU member states (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Serbia) and the goal is to expand the network to Bosnia


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and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Slovenia and Ukraine to include all 14 countries of the EU Danube Region Strategy. The project runs throughout 2014 until early 2015 to increase the visibility and public understanding of the Danube strategy. The different activities include a 2-week volunteer exchange programme, the monitoring of the implementation of the Danube strategy on national level, the holding of Danube classes in schools, and an interactive geocaching game. Activities are assisted by communication tools including a collection of fishing places and jazz clubs along the Danube river, in a guide, a publication on Danube identity – European identity, an insert in the Danube Connect magazine and different leaflets and posters. Coordinated by European House, a Hungarian organistion, the Danubiana Network seeks to establish connections with the civil society collaborators of the Baltic Sea and Adriatic-Ionian strategies and compare the experience of the strategies and analyse the existing practice of government-civil society cooperation from our own perspective. As regionality gains increasing

importance in the European Union the question of identity becomes more relevant too. Consequently the Danubiana project also conducts a research on the different identities of EU citizens. Our starting point is that for most the connection between national and European identity is not obvious, but the notion of a regional identity might assist their peaceful co-existence and complementarity. It is in this context that the project aims to explore the question of Danubian identity for citizens to realise: they also feel Danubian. Miklos Barabas, coordinator Danubiana Network, Director European House, Budapest

European politics from below – Hungarian civil introduction to the EP elections in 2014

Cicil Society

Participatory Project connects People from the Danube Countries

Whether they be young or old, scientists, students, housewives or mechanics: Since January, more and more people between Donaueschingen in the Black Forest and Sulina on the Black Sea have been crocheting a ribbon. The idea is to make leftover yarn in all Danube countries into chain stitch ribbons that, put together, are as long as the Danube itself: 2857 kilometres. The crocheted Danube on the cathedral square in Ulm

“The wanted Danube” In mid-February, a first part was completed: The crocheted ribbons collected at different stations in and around Ulm had a total length of over 100 kilometres. And more and more people are finding the enthusiasm for the action contagious, as initiator Carmen Stadelhofer reports. That way, the ribbon will be colourful in many ways. It expresses the bond between the countries, people and cultures along the Danube. It is also a sign of international understanding, the willingness to cooperate in Europe and to pull in the same direction. The project “Die gewollte Donau” (German: The woollen or wanted Danube) enables people to participate and get together without sharing a common language. It gives incentives to discover the people and cultures, the history and politics along Europe’s second-longest river. What is more, the project for the first time allows many people from different backgrounds to contribute to a highlight of the International Danube

Festival 2014: At this occasion, squares knitted from the crocheted ribbons will be assembled into a giant carpet in the shape of the Danube’s course in front of the Ulm Minster. The individual elements of this collective work of art will be sold by auction. The revenues will be used to invite guests from civil society organisations in Southeast Europe to the Danube Festival and to support social, ecological and cultural initiatives along the Danube. That’s because the participatory project aims at sustainability: It’s about aiding civil society initiatives in the Danube countries and creating links between them – before, after and during the Danube Festival 2014. In many locations, the crocheting activities are accompanied by events on literary, musical and political topics. Classes from all types of schools take part, as do senior and intergenerational clubs; grandmas crochet together with their grandchildren. For every meter counts!

The project is coordinated by the association “Institute for Virtual and Real

Learning in the Area of Adult Education at Ulm University” (ILEU). It is funded by the Ulmer Bürgerstiftung (Citizens’ Foundation Ulm) and the Baden-Württemberg Foundation. Barbara Hinzpeter journalist, Ulm

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Tourism and nature

The Danube’s treasures The “Blue Danube” is usually connected with culture and cuisine and the major cities on its banks, from Vienna to Budapest and Belgrade. But it is beyond those cities where the river’s greatest treasures are found. Indeed, the Danube includes many of Europe’s – and even the world’s – greatest natural riches.


The 1,000 km of the upper Danube in Germany and Austria have lost much of their natural features, altered with dykes and dams. Nevertheless, notable stretches remain, including between Straubing and Vilshofen in Germany as well as the Wachau and Danube Floodplain National Park in Austria.

tween Romania and Serbia, the Danube flows the last 1,000 km unhindered to the Black Sea. The line of islands that the river creates and pushes downriver are important habitats and resting areas for birds and other animals as well as spawning areas for fish, including the 7-meter Beluga sturgeon.

The river’s greatest jewels lie further downstream, on the 2,000 km of the river before it spills into the Black Sea. “Europe’s Amazon” is found where the Drava meets the Danube. Each year, the area, which is shared by Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, is transformed by the spring floods into a wetland paradise, a hotspot for rare birds, including white-tailed eagles.

The river saves its crown jewel for the end, at the spectacular delta it has formed over millennia as it pushes into the Black Sea. The Danube Delta is a vast wetland wilderness, the world’s largest area of reed beds and a globally significant resting and feeding area for fish and fowl, including the Dalmatian pelican and red-breasted goose. Beyond the river itself, the broader area of the basin, including large parts of the Carpathian Mountains, is home to twothirds of the continent’s populations of brown bears and other large carnivores as well as the greatest remaining areas

From the dramatic Iron Gates, the breathtaking canyon where the river forces its way through the southern hook of the Carpathian Mountains be-


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WWF Danube watcher

of virgin forests and wilderness areas outside of Russia and northern Scandinavia. WWF’s work in the Danube basin Over the past 150 years, the Danube has been much abused. Dikes, dams and dredging have straightened large sections of the „blue river“. More than 80 percent of the Danube‘s wetlands have been lost, and with them the rich diversity of fish and other species on which they depend. Fortunately, over the past 20 years much has changed for the better. Water

quality is improved thanks to tougher environmental standards, much of it pushed by the European Union. The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the EU Water Framework Directive have given the world‘s most international river an exemplary framework for governance and integrated river basin management. At the same time, however, EU and government plans anticipate construction of hundreds of small hydro plants as well as diking and dredging that could have massive impacts on the health of the river and the benefits and services it provides. Against this background, WWF‘s efforts in the Danube region focus on the protection and restoration of wetland and floodplain areas, especially on the Lower Danube and Danube Delta as well as valuable areas on the Tisza, Drava, and Morava tributary rivers and sub-basins. We also promote more sustainable approaches to navigation and generating hydropower, seeking to preserve the Danube as a living river. Across the broader river basin, we are also active in promoting the protection and sustainable management of forests as well as protected areas.

appreciation and incentive to preserve their natural riches. But done wrongly, tourism can also easily do more harm than good, killing the proverbial goose that lays the golden eggs. Ecotourism, which tries to develop tourism that benefits from while supporting nature conservation, is growing in currency in the Danube in recent years. After years of promoting only mass tourism, the Romanian government has recently launched an ecotourism destinations programme that promotes tourism connected with selected natural treasures, like the Retezat National Park. The seven countries that share the Carpathian Mountains are currently finalising a common strategy for developing ecotourism as part of the tourism protocol under the Convention for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathian Mountains. The Danube Competence Centre in Belgrade is coordinating a number of tourism initiatives related to the Danube’s natural heritage, including cycle tourism.

Tourism for nature in Rusenski Lom Nature Park Rusenski Lom Nature Park in northern Bulgaria is a pioneer in harnessing tourism for nature conservation. The park, which stretches along the canyons of the Rusenski Lom River, the last right tributary of the Danube, has much to conserve. The breathtaking canyons and rock peaks

Beside river the Danube: Rusenski Lom

include beautiful chapels and caves that medieval hermits carved into the rock. They also are home to a rich store of natural treasures. The area is home to 70 of the country’s 90 species of mammals as well as Egyptian vultures, Black storks and other endangered bird species.

WWF has been working with a number of partners to explore opportunities for linking tourism development with nature conservation. The environmental organization is working with tour operators, including Hofer Reisen and For a number of years, WWF has been To achieve these objectives, we use a Explore Travel, to develop tours to areworking with the park administration and mixture of model field projects, aware- as including the Rusenski Lom Natura local stakeholders to find ways to generate ness raising, capacity building and Park in Bulgaria and the area of Marincomes for the 35,000 people in the area in policy work. We actively engage with amures in northern Romania. In both a way that conserves or even enhances the governments and authorities, especial- areas, WWF has supported local stakearea’s chief selling point – its natural and ly in the framework of the Internation- holders to establish financing schemes In addition to promoting „Von der Donau, kannst du die des ewigencultural Lebens heritage. lernen.“ György Konrád ulm neu-ulm al Commission for the Protection of mir,whereby a percentage of Lektionen income from nature friendly agriculture, sustainable the Danube River and the Carpathian local tourists goes to support local proforest management and marketing localConvention, as well as with the private tected area management – i.e. a scheme ly produced food, WWF has supported sector. to ensure that tourism not only delivlocal residents and businesses to establish ers livelihoods for local people, but a conservation fund. A percentage of inTourism and nature conservation also takes care of the “goose that lays come from tourist services goes into the Tourism has great potential both for the golden eggs”. fund, which provides the park administragood and for bad. Depending on how tion with additional resources for managit is done, tourism development can Andreas Beckmann, ing visitors and supporting conservation hold the key to preserving natural and Managing Director of the activities, e.g. for the endangered Egyptian WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme cultural treasures, both by giving7. local Kontakt und Information: Internationales Donaufest vulture. communities the means as well as the


MAMA DUNA in Ulm und Neu-Ulm 27. August - 5. September 2010

donau.büro.ulm · Tel. 0049 (0) 731 / 88 03 06-0 · danube connects 01 I 14



How much human presence can nature bear?

Now that humans already take up so much formerly natural space, nature should be able to grow freely in its last refuges – national parks, nature parks and other protected areas along the Danube. At the same time, conservation areas have an important recreational function for people and give them the opportunity of experiencing nature first-hand and understanding it better. These contrary interests are compatible – thanks to guiding measures and educational offers.

A canoe glides silently over a calm branch of the Danube. The shores are so overgrown they look like a jungle, nothing disturbs the silence, all you can hear are birdcalls and the gentle splash of the paddles. Up ahead, there’s a Grey Heron sitting on a branch in the water! You pull out your camera, and the bird takes off. You press the trigger – a great shot! Are you sure? Behind the scenes, it looks different: the Grey Heron is raising its chicks. Its nest lies further into the forest, high up on a tree top. All day long, the adult bird moves between the nest and the water, constantly busy searching food for its young. Now it is being bothered by the boats with tourists. Every time it flies up, escapes and settles again a hundred metres further along the shore to hunt in peace, the boat reaches it again after only a few minutes. The bird gets stressed, has less success hunting, and its chicks are hungry.


This snapshot is only one striking example amongst many illustrating howman’s presence disturbs fauna and danube connects 01 I 14

and plant species; with them, refuges of biodiversity are created. At the same time, it’s important to make people enthusiastic for natural diversity and dynamics and to keep the natural areas usable for recreational purposes.

Space for people and nature

flora along the Danube. If only a few people have got too close to its nest, the White-tailed Eagle leaves it at the beginning of the breeding season and may not breed at all during that season. Attractive flowers – like different orchids on dry grassland – are picked and cannot reproduce or serve as food for insects. To create new paths for tourists, upright dead trees have to be chopped down as they might fall over any time – that means fewer habitats for countless insects, birds or bats. Protected areas as refuges and recreational space National parks, landscape conservation areas and biosphere reserves protect the last natural habitats of domestic animal

In order to reconcile both objectives, there are codes of conduct in protected areas: Only non-motorized boats are allowed in just a few designated areas, swimming is not authorized on all river shores, there are designated spots for camping and lighting a fire, and hikers should always stay on marked paths.


The DANUBEPARKS network Guided tours A guided tour is most exciting: the rangers accompany visitors to observation spots, where they can observe White-tailed Eagles, herons, cormorants and many other animals at rest without disturbing them. The tourists don’t only notice blooming orchids, but also many inconspicuous little plants, because the rangers can tell interesting stories about their role in the ecosystem or their traditional use. And because visitors get so much new information in a small area, they eventually don’t care anymore about the fact that there are no paths leading to big parts of the reserve. Our largely mapped and developed world needs a bit of inaccessible mystery. Magdalena Wagner, Danubeparks More information:

Since 2009, protected areas along the Danube have been cooperating in the DANUBEPARKS network. Today, 17 nature reserves collaborate in the network; a few more could join in the next few years. Important topics are river morphology, wildlife conservation and habitat management, as well as nature tourism and environmental education. A survey on the ecological viability and possible solutions to the conflict between protection of the environment and recreational use is currently being done, led by the Donau-Auwald Neuburg-Ingolstadt (Germany) and the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (Romania). In the future, a data base of particularly endangered species is supposed to help Danube protected areas find appropriate solutions to reconcile the different interests: In addition to identifying the main disturbances and reactions of the species to them, the data base lists examples of best practice drawn from other reserves or literature, so that experiences are passed on and can be adapted and implemented.

Further activities in tourism and education:

Training for rangers Develop new boat and bike tours Prepare a common action plan on nature tourism Compile facilities of environmental education Develop quality guidelines for environmental education Develop offers for disabled people (Donau-Auwald Neuburg-Ingolstadt, Germany; in progress) BEPARKS! Experience DANU

The International Danube Festival of Danube Protected Areas has already taken place several times in different locations: After Hungary, Austria and Romania, the next stop-over is Serbia. It will take place in cooperation with the Bodrog Festival in Baki Monostor in the protected area Gornje Podunavlje on August 9 and 10. Visitors will have the occasion to meet representatives of all DANUBEPARKS partners, gather information on holidays and nature conservation in their regions or simply learn more about the diverse nature of the Danube through games, a quiz and information material directly on site. All around, the Bodrog Festival features modern and traditional Serbian music as well as delicious food – including a fish soup cooking contest at the opening on Friday evening.

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In Romania, hikers are exotic Günther Krämer has always most enjoyed exploring the world on foot, and he has always organised private hiking tours for small groups. In 2010, he turned his passion into a profession. Ever since, he and his wife Angelica have been offering hikes for everyone in the Carpathian Mountains and along the German Danube. “I’ve always been on the road”, Günther Krämer replies and laughs when asked at what moment he discovered his passion for hiking. First in the Alps and later as a student in the Orient. Then the 64-year-old had what he calls a “jungle phase” in Africa and Latin America. After 1990, he explored Eastern Europe afoot, going as far as the Ukraine. Today, he and his wife Angelica like hiking in Romania and along the German Danube best. Since 2010, the two hiking experts have been offering guided tours for small groups up to ten participants that mainly appeal to ramblers of 50 years and older. “Many of our participants are regulars, to be precise: 43 percent”, Günther Krämer rejoices.


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The Krämers see themselves as amblers, and so they called their company Lustwandeln (ambling). This year, they will lead a tour to the hiking paradise Bukovina (Carpathian Mountains) in June before treading on uncharted paths in mysterious Maramures and through the Southern Carpathians near Brasov in August. “The Carpathians are an insider tip for hikers. They never fail to inspire us with their nature, hospitality and Romanian specialties”, Krämer reports. And what about communication? “No problem at all”, says Angelica Krämer, for she was born in Romania and is responsible for translating during the hikes. Moreover, the Krämers organise the complete trip: getting there, accommodation, food, programme and hiking route. “Like that, the participants don’t have to worry about anything and can enjoy the hike”, Angelica Krämer explains. While some things were un-

familiar when the couple first launched their own business, they have now developed a certain routine in organising their tours. Many things are handled by e-mail. Whenever that’s not possible due to missing internet connections, e.g. when booking accommodation in remote villages, Angelica Krämer simply phones. The Krämers know by experience that in Romania, it’s important to book bindingly. “Or else, you might find yourself with no place to spend the night”, she knows.

Hiking tourists are exotic in Romania, and yet, they always encounter open and cordial hospitality. “Romanians can’t understand why one would want


At the hay harvest in Bukovina

to walk long distances”, Krämer explains, “for in Romania, the car is the main means of transportation. Everybody drives, and the railway network is getting smaller every year.” But the Krämers still try use public transportation when they need it during their tours – sometimes, this can mean taking a horse-drawn vehicle. “For years, we’ve been trying to convince decision-makers in politics and tourism in the region that the hiking trails in the Carpathians have enormous potential for the development of gentle tourism”, Krämer underlines. So far without success. According to Krämer, this is due to the fact that many Romanians don’t think in a business-oriented way and don’t work systematically. “The paths could easily be certified as premium trails, which would attract hiking enthusiasts from Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.” The region needs this kind of sustainable tourism to survive. “The farmers maintain this beautiful cultural landscape, and they need a livelihood through tourists which they lodge and

The folk dance festival „Hora de la Prislop“

feed”, says Krämer, who is member of the German Hiking Institute. In addition to his activity as a hiking guide, he also develops high-quality hiking paths for local authorities and tourist organisations. This is where we come to the Danube. In 2008, the Krämers spent several weeks planning and exploring a hiking trail along the Danube, commissioned by the consortium German Danube (ARGE Deutsche Donau). There is no continuous marking, but the route can be downloaded as a series of maps, descriptions and GPX data. Today, hiking tours along the German Danube are part of Lustwandeln’s offer of guided hikes. The couple organises hiking trips from the Black Forest to Passau and hikes in the Danube canyon. Those who prefer hiking by themselves to walking in a group will find a lot of information on everything concerning hiking on the website of Lustwandeln, or they can ask to be advised individually by the two hiking experts.

Andrea Toll, danube connects danube connects 01 I 14



Doubly Sustainable: Living and Working with Bulgarian Farmers

The idea of Farmhopping is surpris surprisingly simple: bring Bulgarian farmers and city dwellers together via an internet platform. That way, small rural farms can find new supporters interested in preserving sustainable agriculture. These supporters are called Farmhoppers because they do not only purchase vegetables, fruit or cheese directly from the producers in rural areas. For several days or weeks, they visit “their farm” and participate in everyday work and life – farm holidays that are doubly sustainable!

Farmhopping was developed by Rossi Mitova, who calls herself a “city girl”. After studies of investment and risk management at the renowned Cass Business School in London, she first worked for nine years in investment banking in London before implementing her know-how and experience in Bulgaria. Eight years ago, she founded the platform Farmhopping as a start-up together with two partners. The project has been developing well and currently involves 16 farms working in a sustainable manner in Bulgaria. Farmhopping is now also gaining ground in the USA, Egypt and India.

It all began during a trip to the mountains close to Kresna (150 km south of Sofia), when Rossi Mitova and Mihail Stanchev discovered the Perun farm. Here, Todor Georgiev breeds (amongst others) the endangered Karakachan sheep and fights against the competition of large, non-sustainable businesses. Mihail started supporting the breeding of two sheep with a monthly donation. The Perun farm has since become a member of Farmhopping. Today, Todor Georgiev says: “When I joined Farmhopping, I had almost abandoned hope for my dream of agriculture. But thanks to this platform, I have met people who want to help.” Thomas Zehender, journalist, Ulm

Bicycle Touring in Bratislava: Opportunities Thanks to EuroVelo 6 and 13 Will the Bratislava Bike Point (BBP) remain a provisional arrangement in the second year of its existence? Since April 2013, bicycles are being rented out to tourists in a leased container next to the new bridge over the Danube (novy most). The four part-time employees of the BBP provide information, help bikers with breakdowns and offer safe storage for bike tourists who want to discover the historic centre on foot and without luggage. The BBP is managed by the


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travel organisation Luka Tours with the support of the tourist office and the municipality of Bratislava. Originally, the provisional container was supposed to be replaced by a constant establishment close to the UFO restaurant near the new bridge over the Danube – in spring, early enough for the bike season 2014. At the end of January, BBP disclosed that the construction had not yet started, so that a container might again be installed. Nonetheless, the Bratislava Bike Point is expecting an increasing number of bike tourists, for both the European cycle

Last s ’ d l r o W Taking the Forestry Railway through the Carpathians The Vaser Valley Railway or Moca˘nit,a: tourists travelling through Northern Romania simply cannot ignore it. It’s the unrivalled main attraction in the Maramures‚ region at the Ukrainian border. Under full steam, passengers are brought from Vis‚eu de Sus to the Vaser Valley/Valea Vaserului. An experience no traveller is likely to forget. The world’s last forestry railway with a steam locomotive runs on a route network of about 60 kilometres. The sinuous route leads over bridges and through tunnels, following the water flow to a wildly romantic Carpathian valley. The train makes it possible to access a gigantic forest area that possesses neither roads nor villages, but instead is home to bears and wolves. The lumber resources started to be used at the beginning of the 18th century under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. German-speaking colonists began exploiting the oldgrowth forests and floated the timber down to the sawmills of Vișeu de Sus. The construction of the forest rail

way started in 1932 and made it much easier to transport timber.

route EuroVelo 13 (Barents Sea to Black Sea), also called the Iron Curtain Trail, and the extended EuroVelo 6 (Atlantic to Black Sea) pass through Bratislava. Furthermore, BBP cooperates with bike rentals in Vienna and Budapest, so that one part of the journey can be covered with a rented bike, and the way back by boat. According to the BBP, most of the bike tourists come from Great Britain, Italy, Ireland, Russia and Germany, followed by Canadians and Dutch. Bike Bratislava, another bike rental service, also reports that demand, in-

cluding by locals, has been growing for years. With over 100 kilometres of bicycle lanes, Bratislava and its surroundings offer various opportunities for day trips. For one-way rentals, Bike Bratislava takes matters in hand and brings bicycles back from Vienna or Budapest itself. Together with partners, it can equip groups of 30 people and more with bikes.

Vaser Valley Mocănița still serves its purpose After 1990, all forestry railways in Romania were shut down because of the economic situation. They were dismantled, their locomotives and wagons scrapped and sold. Only the Vaser Valley Railway in the Maramureș region remained. Today, it still serves its original purpose, as it is still used for transporting timber. Since 2000, the railway has received support from the association “Help for the Vaser Valley Railway”. With Swiss help, abandoned steam locomotives were put back into service,

new passenger wagons obtained, the locomotive depot and the historic railway station were restored. Since 2009, Ioana and Andreas Coman-Karlstetter have been in charge of tourist operations on the railway track. The industrial use is managed by the company CFF Vișeu de Sus. One year after the railway had been brought back into service, 13 000 tourists had already taken the Vaser Valley Railway through the mountain landscape of Maramureș. And more and more tourists come every year. 80 percent of passengers are tourists from Romania; the other 20 percent come from Switzerland and Germany. In the high season from the end of July to the end of August, two to three trains leave every day. Seats can be reserved on the internet. It’s possible to organise special voyages for groups. Raluca Nelepcu, Banater Zeitung, Temeswar

Thomas Zehender, journalist, Ulm Bratislava Bike Point at the new bridge

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Ruse - Bulgarien The Endless Column, 1937–1938

“You don’t yet know all that I am leaving you!”

D 22

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Love, the secret of Brâncus‚i’s art. Love, the magical formula of the universe of great art. “It is less important to be loved than to love with all one’s strength and being.” That is how Brâncus‚i described his sculpture Adam and Eve.

Born 1876 into a poor family in the south of Romania, Brâncuşi worked hard to make ends meet even as a child. As an adolescent, he succeeded in travelling to Paris, where he became known for his new style of sculpture. This style combined archaic tradition with very modern forms. He was an apprentice to Rodin and won his esteem, but soon left his master to find his own way to an original oeuvre. Later, Modigliani painted his portrait. With Picasso, he designed joint exhibitions. James Joyce asked him to create his portrait. His studio at the Centre Pompidou in Paris is evidence of his genius and influence on modern art. Shortly before his death (1957), Brâncuşi made the following statement about his works: “You don’t yet know all that I am leaving you.” With these words, he said goodbye to his art. He gave away many of his sculptures, for he was generous, and then created them again. There are several versions of almost all of his works.

Travel and art

Craiova Art Museum

Different forms

The Kiss

When he was asked to create a tomb for Petre Stănescu in Buzau, Romania, he designed a weeping woman kneeling in front of a bust of the deceased set on a pedestal. “How could I erect the sculpture of a naked woman in a cemetery? The solution was a prayer, a synthesis of deepest mourning”, said Brâncuşi. The sculpture The Prayer illustrates his new way of thinking: Because the woman is anonymous, the sculpture’s meaning becomes universal. The statue is neither a symbol of composure in the face of death, nor is it stuck in a traditional, realistic style.

The sumptuous neobaroque palace that houses the museum was completed in 1896, following the plans of the French architect Paul Gotereau, who also built the CEC building in Bucharest. The main attraction of the museum is the art gallery dedicated to Romanianborn Constantin Brâncus‚i, exhibiting six of his early sculptures (including variants of his best-known works): The Kiss (1907), Vitellius (1898), Woman Torso (1909), The Vainglory (1905), Boy‘s Head (1906), Mademoiselle Pogany (1902). Brâncus‚i’s ‘studio’ has been recreated in the museum.

ture. Next to the gate of the house and at the heads of the tombs of a married couple, two trees are planted. Their intertwined crowns represent the eternal unification of the spouses. Man and woman cannot be distinguished from each other. The Gate of the Kiss evolved from the original sculpture The Kiss.

Visit Brâncuşi, his Romanian soul, embodied in those of his works standing out-of-doors. Dr. Monica Vlad, journalist, Romania

The Endless Column, a signal of victory and immortality, and The Table of Silence are also located outdoors in Târgu Jiu. Both are universal works that bring Brâncuşi’s genius back from the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, home to His many magical birds (Măiastra) his birthplace, to his roots. The Craiowere supposed to sublimate the idea of va Art Museum, Romania, harbours a flying – the abstract idea per se. They part of his 250 works. Others can now „Von mir, der Donau, kannst du die Lektionen des ewigen Lebens lernen.“ György Konrád ulm neu-ulm are now to be found in museums in be seen in the world’s great museums. New York, London, Chicago and Paris. They bear witness to his genius: The The Gate of the Kiss has its roots in Târ- Wisdom of the Earth, Mademoiselle Poggu Jiu, in the Gorj region of southern any, The Prayer, The Newborn, Sleeping Romania, where it can be admired out Muse. in the open. It stems from the idea to “create a sculpture that does not commemorate a specific couple, but all human couples who have loved each other and lived on earth; each of my Kontakt und Information: works is born from this sentiment”, 7. Internationales Donaufest is how Brâncuşi describes this sculpBrâncus‚i in his studio donau.büro.ulm · Tel. 0049 (0) 731 / 88 03 06-0


MAMA DUNA in Ulm und Neu-Ulm 27. August - 5. September 2010 · danube connects 01 I 14


danube connects – the magazine for the danube countries, 1/2014  

Special edition about sustainable tourism in the danube region.

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