Swis Nature

Záhorie Protected Landscape Area

Where the wild mountain river changes to calm lowland stream

Danube enters Slovakia through so called Devín Gate (formerly Porta Hungarica), a breakthrough section – geographic unit formed by ending of the Carpathian ridge and flows through the country on the length of 172 km. Within this section, between its left sided tributaries Morava and Ipeľ, several protected areas were designated, including Protected Landscape Area Danube Floodplains. It contains rich network of river branches and complexes of adjacent wetlands. Especially in the upper part of the area – where the rapidly flowing river of montane character turns into huge and slowly flowing lowland river – the branch system is exceptionally rich developed and it constitutes the so called Danube inland delta (between villages Dobrohošť and Sap), biggest in Europe. Strong river activity created a unique mosaic of different habitats, formed by flood regime. In the past, the most prominent side arms were Little Danube on the Slovak side and the Hungarian Moson Danube. They surround areas Žitný Island and Szigetköz, which are represented by very fertile black soil and at the same time the biggest deposits of drinking water in the whole Europe. During last 200 years the Danube water regime has been dramatically changed – reduction of inundation area by building of flood protection dykes and damming, straightening, dredging and embanking of river bed. Numerous side arms were cut off and water became stagnant. Due to absence of dynamic processes no new branches are being created. In 1992 Gabčíkovo water dam stared to operate with intention to improve international navigation and produce electricity. It was accompanied by more negative impacts. First increasing of depth and velocity and consequent disappearing of gravel (even strengthened by ongoing extraction), limiting for bird species nesting on gravel benches. Next lowering of ground water level and therefore its volume in side arms. Luckily the situation gets better thanks to nature conservation initiatives during last years. BROZ implements river branch restoration measures within the whole Danube section in Slovakia.