Alluvial forests of the River Lafnitz

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The “European Conservation Area Lafnitztal“ with a total area of 566,327 ha comprises two areas protected by laws on nature protection at the moment: The 70 ha large alluvial forests “Nature Protection Area Lafnitz-Stögersbach-Auen“, in the community Wolfau as well as the 31 ha site “Protected Landscape Lahnbach“ near Dt. Kaltenbrunn. In addition to that, the "Life-Project Site Loipersdorf-Kitzladen“ is also part of that area.

 

The separated parts of the area are connected by the River Lafnitz (water as a public good).

The River Lafnitz belongs to the last lowland rivers in Austria that are unregulated over large parts of their course. The free and unrestricted course of the river provides natural interaction with accompanying alluvial forests and riparian lowland meadows and produces a great variety of river-morphological habitat structures by its unrestricted flow dynamics. These habitats are home to Burgenland’s highest number of Annnex II species of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC with representative stands and with the most important habitat types.The maintenance status of the area varies, ranging from unregulated largely free meanders of the section down to Dt. Kaltenbrunn on the one hand to the „relentlessly“ regulated flow section leading down to the state border on the other hand.

 

lafnitz-prall-gleithang_weinzettlDue to the rich occurrence of directive-relevant fish species, river morphologi- cal measures particularly in the course of a life-project have been taken to improve the habitat management for the fish fauna and the interaction of the river with its surrounding landscape, before all in the lower sections of the river.

Protected Features:

The course of the River Lafnitz has several fresh- water habitats and species that can be found in the Annexes of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC. The accompanying alluvial forests (91E0 Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior), which cover comparably large areas, are of particular importance. Muddy banks with their pioneer vegetation (3270 Rivers with muddy banks with Chenopodion rubri p.p. and Bidention p.p. vegetation) abandoned river channels with standing water (3150 Natural eutrophic lakes with a Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition–type vegetation ) as well as primary tall herb communities (6430 Hydropilus tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels) are only small sites.


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The richly structured cultural landscape of the Lafnitz valley is also characterized by extensive grassland areas, mainly with vegetation communities of humid and wet meadows (Calthion), but only the rare False Oat meadows (Arrhenaterion) can be counted among the Council Directive-relevant habitats (6510 Lowland hay meadows). Remaining fragments of Molinia hay meadows ‘Streuwiesen’ (traditionally these meadows were only mown once a year in autumn and the cuttings were used as bedding in stables) (6410 Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils (Molinion caeruleae)).

Considering the animal species listed in Annex II of the Council Directive 92/43/EEC especially water animals can be found in representative stands: The European Otter (Lutra lutra), the Yellow-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata), the European Fire-bellied Toad (Bombina bombina), crested newts (Triturus carnifex and dobrogicus), the Zingel Streber (Zingel streber), the Zingel (Zingel zingel), the Striped Ersh (Gymnocephalus schraetser), the Spined Loach (Cobitis taenia), the Golden Spined Loach (Sabanejewia aurata), the Asp (Aspius aspius), the White-finned Gudgeon (Gobio albipinnatus), Kessler’s Gudgeon (Gobio kessleri), the Amur Bitterling (Rhodeus sericeus), the European Weatherfish (Misgurnus fossilis), the Ukrainian Brook Lamprey (Eudontomyzon mariae), the Thickshelled River Mussel (Unio crassus) and the Green Clubtail (Ophiogomphus cecilia). On the meadows adjacent to the River Lafnitz, Council Directive-relevant species are the Scarce Large Blue (Maculinea teleius) and the Dusky Large Blue (Maculinea nausithous); small forests and other woods in the cultural landscape are important food habitats for Geoffroy’s Bat (Myotis emarginatus) and the Greater Mouse-Eared Bat (Myotis myotis).