The Morava Anniversary Project 2014

Reconnecting Europe in Nature

The Morava and the Dyje floodplains are one of the major ecological hotspots in Europe. Although protected by national legislation and international agreements they face severe deterioration due to major interference with ecosystems: the canalisation of the river courses.

In the last 20 years NGOs and scientists tried to start bi- or tri-lateral restoration projects to re-meander the rivers – with little success so far. This is not due to the lack of knowledge, but due to limited political will.

In terms of the ecological impact, the canalisation has caused loss of biodiversity, a drop of water level by 2m, drainage of the floodplains, the speeding up of flood waves – altogether is has produced an unsatisfying status according to European legislation (WFD, Natura 2000). It separates and blocks ecosystems and ecological processes that naturally belong together. Last not least we lost about 14 kilometres of rivers.

However, we currently see an opportunity to change this by initiating an international restoration project. But it will only work with the political support of the EU.

For more than 60 years, the Morava and the Dyje have been border rivers. However, they are no “usual” border rivers. Not only did they separate the people of the three neighbouring countries, they also separated East from West, capitalism from communism, NATO from the Warsaw Pact etc. The rivers became a symbol for the diverted Europe.

The regulation of these rivers between 1936-1984 was the physical expression of the political and social reality in Europe. But that situation has changed.

In 2004 Slovakia and the Czech Republic became members of the European Union. And while Europe grew closer together – nature did not. The river course of Morava and Dyje are still separating ecosystems and people. This must change.

In May 2014 the CZ, SK and the EU will celebrate its 10-year anniversary and they are looking for an appropriate present to Europe.

The idea
On May 1st 2014 we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the EU membership of SK and CZ. On that date – a Thursday – the heads of the three countries plus high representatives of the EU declare the start of the “re-meandering Morava” project.
The river that divided Europe for more than 60 years will be restored to the original meandering system.

The canalisation of Morava and Dye was a project to separate Europe!
The tri-lateral re-meandering project will be THE project of the 10th anniversary. It will be a project to reunify Europe on the ground.

Before and after?

Re-meandering project near village of Hohenau.