Riverwalk 2019… only a few steps away!

Do you hear the footsteps?

(c) Toni Vorauer River in Lech Valley, near Forchach, Tirol. Austria

You will soon!

Riverwalk 2019Walk the Lech will begin this Sunday, July 14th!

20 some young adults will set off along the Lech River, in Western Austria, to discover this amazing river system. Starting at the headwaters and continuing along the banks where it eventually crosses into Germany.

Why are they walking?

You may be asking yourself, “why would a group of young people “give up” their summer breaks to walk for 2 weeks?”  Good question, and their answers can be found here!

What will they do?

Well, walk! But that’s not all, along the way, they’re likely to have life-changing adventures, experience beautiful vistas and see one of the last remaining “wild, natural rivers” in Austria and the Alps.  They’ll meet up with various experts, artists, nature lovers, and fellow adventurers.

Join the Lech Riverfest!

Want to be part of the action?  Then join the walkers, locals and river enthusiasts at this year’s Riverfest.

When? Sunday, 21. Juli 2019
Where? Naturparkhaus Klimmbrücke – Außenareal (Klimm 2, 6644 Elmen)
What to expect? Fun and games, music, workshops and snacks!
(Workshops such as survival, wild plants, land art, LIFE Lech)
+ a creative “Kinderprogramm!!!”

More here!

Let’s hear it for this year’s Riverwalkers!  To a great walk!

Are you ready for Riverwalk 2019?!

Yes, it’s true! The 6th Riverwalk is gonna happen!

The registration period has officially started: APPLY HERE!
(Deadline: 30th of April, the spaces are limited to 15 people)

Together we will hike along the Tyrolean Lech – one of the most beautiful and natural rivers in Austria. As every year, this Riverwalk will be unique. We will see a positive example of how river protection in Austria could look like and what difference people can make if they get active.

When? 14.-26.7.2019

Where? Along the Tyrolean Lech (~140 km)

What? Join 20 young adults (18-30 years old) as we discover the Tirolern Lech by hiking, cycling and rafting. Together we want to set a statement for River Protection in Austria.

Why? The goal of this year’s walk is to discover, protect and raise awareness of the importance of rivers by seeing a positive example of how river protection could look like. We want to connect and inspire people to keep protecting our last natural rivers.

Costs: In order to secure your place in the project, a participant fee of 100,00 EUR will be collected and must be paid within 3 weeks of being notified of your acceptance to the project team. This fee will help cover your costs (camping fees, meals, outdoor activities, etc.).

See you at the Riverwalk! 


The Austrian Riverwalk video is now live!

We’re happy to annouce that the official Riverwalk 2018 video following the 13 day journey of the Riverwalk-Austria team as they hiked and biked through the Waldviertel along the Kamp River is now online!

It not only shows images of the time they spent along the river, sleeping under the stars, cooking and living together, walking, biking, swimming but also heavily stresses the urgent need to protect Europe’s rivers!

You can help protect Europe’s rivers and waterbodies too!

Add your name to the WWF petition and send a strong message to the European Union to keep their hands off the water protection law and ensure that our rivers have the protection needed.  We love them for swimming, rafting, hiking along, fishing, kayaking, meditating, drinking! and enjoying…and more.

Enjoy this year’s Riverwalk 2018 video and sign the petition today!

The text in the video is in German.

Big thanks to the Riverwalk team and Elli for making the amazing video!

And what happend on the first-ever German Riverwalk?

Below, you’ll find the blog posts from WWF Germany Jugend’s first-ever Riverwalk!






Post 1:  The wet start of the German Riverwalk 2018

The adventure begins…

August 8, the first-ever German Riverwalk began!  The team met after some hours in train, bus and a first walking part in Oberammergau to a sports field, where we had the possibility to put up our tarp for two nights. After a relaxed afternoon where we got to know each other, bought something to eat and cooked very interesting green-coloured, but tasty curry, we put our tarp building skills to the test for the first time.

Question: would we be able to sleep outside for the next nine days under our tarp?  It started raining and because of the stony ground, water started flowing inside the tarp! Moreover, the wind blew more rain inside the tarp too. Thanks to our improvised constructions, we stayed dry during the night, but the meadow became a marsh.

To the source of the Ammer…

The next day we started walking from Oberammergau in the direction of Graswang to get to the source of the Ammer River. It is interesting to mention that the water of the Ammer comes from the Ammergebirge (Ammer-Mountains) in Austria and is there called the “Linder.” Near Graswang, the river seeps away, just to come up again some meters later and there begins then the Ammer!  Seeing that during a very wonderful sunny day, we expected a dry night, but during the evening, it started to rain again, so half of the team decided to sleep inside in a locker room, where we met a cool football team. :)=


The walking begins…

After a night where even the outside-sleepers stayed dry, because it stopped raining quite soon after going to bed, it just began again the next morning. We started quite wet in our shortest and first real walking day. Having very heavy backpacks and being wet, the motivation was not that high, and we all were thankful when we arrived around noon in Unterammergau, where we had the possibility to stay inside a gym. It was like being back in our old school times, and we had our first input-presentation from Ronja, who took part in the planning team.

She told us something about the European Water Framework Directive, its goals and actual problems. The afternoon continued with some input outside: We met Martin Kleiner – group leader of a local group from the “Bund Naturschutz” (Union for nature conservation). Going back to the Ammer again, he told us many interesting things about a “nature conservation conflict” at the Pulvermoos. Over a hundred years ago the Ammer had been straightened and because of that a marshland with high biodiversity developed right next to the river. There are discussions to restore the Ammer to its natural state but this would mean destroying the marshland. Not changing anything means, however, that the river remains in a straightened channel without its natural flow dynamics.  What to do?


Post 2:  How to deal with… too many people visiting the Ammer?

The fourth night was dry for some in- for others outside and even in the morning the sun was shining! We started with high motivation and we made half of the way quickly along the still straightened Ammer. In Altenau we lost the path for a moment, but we found our path outside the village and that it was from now on climbing over green hills. It was more exhausting to walk there, but we had a beautiful view over the mountains of the Alps from where we came. We stopped for a lunch break close to the Kammerl – one of the two hydroelectric power stations on the Ammer and next to the Ammer’s gorge.

Entering the gorge…

After this relaxing break, we entered the gorge. After a while of walking up and down but not always so close to “our” river, we met Gerhard Hofauer – a ranger in this area. He told us many things about nature protection in the Ammer’s gorge: why it is not allowed to visit some special zones here and which problems are brought here because of having too many tourists. After talking and hiking for a while away from the Ammer, we then came back down into the gorge at the Soier Mühle (Soier Mill). From there on, we just had one last ascent to reach Bad Bayersoien, where we had the possibility to camp close to a lake.

We were greeted by the mayor Gisela Kieweg and Susanne Lengger, who works for the tourism association Pfaffenwinkel, and sat together and talked about tourism and some solutions so that nature will not be destroyed but people will still have the possibility to visit it. We realized that it’s a challenging dilemma, and we found out that there is not “the” perfect solution. That evening, we also got some input about the way to walk – nice points to see and where we should take another path. Again it was quite much input for the day, and when we went to bed is was already cold. It was the coldest of all the nights and in the morning, we used the sun-heated tarp to sleep out quite long that Sunday morning. We made a barefoot walk around the lake, went swimming and chilled during the rest of the morning close to the lake. We took full advantage of the sunny day and because we only had 6 kilometres to walk, we could take the time to relax. We stared walking and arrived early at the campsite in Rottenbuch and had some free time during the afternoon and evening.

A new week begins!

Starting in a new week, and it became a little bit more exhausting as the sun left us again. We started to walk again down into the gorge to follow the Ammer in more ups and down until the Kalkofensteg, a small bridge at a much known place where it is allowed to swim in the Ammer even if it is in a nature reserve. We waited for Mathias Fischer from the local WWF office in Weilheim, who came to tell us something about the renaturation project “Schnalz”. As soon as he finished talking, the sky got dark again and a thunderstorm came closer and closer. Some of our group decided not to walk but to go by car with the film team already to Hohenpeißenberg. The rest of the group was quite lucky, because after ten minutes, the sky got clearer and it was just drizzling a little bit.  The last one and a half hours of walking was quite nice.  After being quite wet in general, we were all quite happy, to have the possibility to sleep inside at the “Haus der Vereine” and to dry our clothes.

Dry…and then wet again!

On Tuesday, we woke up dry, because of being inside, but as soon as we started walking, it began to rain again. Away from the Ammer, we walked through forests along the “Hoher Peißenberg”, a mountain next to the Ammer. Some slippery ascents and descents could not stop us, so we arrived as the sun was coming out behind the clouds in Peißenberg. At the campsite there, we found a very nice place to sleep. The neighboring campers, asked us what the heck we had built up. “Well, obviously, it is a tarp and no, it is not too cold to sleep under it and yes, we stay dry too.”  Answering some questions and going to the Ammer, which was next to the campsite, we had a cool evening there.

Post 3:  To the finish…and relaxing at the lake

Having passed through the Ammer’s gorge and being some kilometres away from the Alps, Thursday was not that exciting regarding the nature experience. We went along the more or less straightened Ammer to Weilheim, where we had the possibility to use a house and garden of the Scouts to rest for one night. It was the last night close to our river, because on Thursday we already started our last leg, from Weilheim to Riederau. We were only 20 km until the Ammer Lake, but because the Ammer has no real mouth, it just ends in a lake. The water (and river) leaving the lake at its north again is then called Amper River and it eventually meets the Isar River close to Munich.

Reaching our goal much faster than expected and with singing songs, listening to music, guessing animals beginning with a,b,c,… and of course talking, we arrived early in Riederau. The last three kilometres, however, took us much more energy than we thought. First, after we arrived in the garden of the couple that gave us the possibility to sleep at their propriety, we went swimming in the lake. Not carrying the heavy backpack anymore, we felt just free. However, that was not the very ending of our story. We spent the afternoon with the film team and Sigrun Lange and Wolfgang Hug from the local WWF office in Weilheim. Listening to some last words about the Ammer’s role in the area, we got even more input on the last evening. Being at the Ammer’s Lake, we were invited to have a short trip on a sailing boat from where we were again able to look at where we came from – the mountains of the Alps.

The last night under the stars…

Being back on solid ground and again back in our group of just the Riverwalkers, we put our sleeping bags in the grass under the stars – without building up the tarp and luckily even without rain. After more than 110 km, we fell happily asleep. We had made it.

We finished the first-ever German Riverwalk along the Ammer!






Photo credits:  Hannah Hamm, Christian Kröck, Gerhard Hofauer and Wolfgang Hug

The Finish Line

After our day of hiking without backpacks we continued our journey from Rosenburg to Gars am Kamp. This day we had only a fairly short walk of 10 km to manage, because at two o’clock in the afternoon Fabio of the Riverwatch team joined us and held a talk about the last free-flowing rivers in Europe. Two journalists and some interested locals joined us as well to discuss the recent developments. Firstly, Fabio explained the natural development of the structure as the river grows and the significance of the possible interactions with the groundwater and the riverbanks. Then, he visualised the dimension in which we build dams in Austria. On average every 900 meters a dam makes it nearly impossible for the river to develop the required habitats for fish and insects to be self-sustaining. He highlighted that his work is mainly focusing on preserving the genetic material of the fauna and flora in the last free-flowing river systems and not about acting against every waterpower plant or dam. Fabio outlined that in Europe more than 80% of the waterpower plants are small ones, which produce in comparison to the big ones, like the Danube power plants, only 3% of the overall gained energy out of waterpower. In conclusion, the final message Fabio brought us was about the removal of several small power plants in the last rivers with longer free-flowing stretches and that they would not even have a noticeable impact on the energy gained out of waterplants. Making the big, impactful power plants more efficient in their performance in order to get rid of fossil fuels as our main source of energy definitely has some potential. However, putting dam after dam into the last precious, free-flowing rivers we have, for sure, does not.

Fabio empowered us with his positive nature and his passion about this topic. We want to thank him again for his visit. After that demanding program, we cooked together and spent the evening playing games, where some Riverwalk members showed off some impressive acting performances. However, the members who have biologists as parents did not make a lot of new friends. In the next morning we had to pick up our borrowed bikes and continued with this new means of transportation to Langenlois. Afterwards, one journalist visited us for some information about the reason of the strange way we decided to spend our holidays. The rest of the day we enjoyed the Kamp in the local bath, some of us visited the Loisianum or embarrassed themselves in volleyball games.

Looking back on our nearly finished journey we will probably enjoy our last evening with one or two well-earned beers and reflect our way together. On which we not only had the possibility to get in touch with the river and the political issue of the Rosenburg powerplant, but also to experience the 24/7 life in a group and to develop our personalities along the way. I think I can speak for the whole Riverwalk group when I say, we are extremely thankful to the WWF and Tim Pauli for making this remarkable experience possible!

The expansion of the power plant in Rosenburg – A controversial project!

It’s been two days since our last entry. However, a lot of things happened in this short time frame. Jure, a dedicated old timer when it comes to Riverwalks, left us on Monday when we headed from the Dobra Dam to a representative of the local initiative “lebendiger Kamp”. After a fairly short hike we arrived at his place. He informed us about the rather shady circumstances under which an expansion of the dam in Rosenburg is being discussed. The amount of energy the dam currently produces isn’t much. This expansion would imply to build a new dam behind the old one which is slightly higher. Furthermore, it is planned to deepen the river bed over 1,5 kilometres to increase the difference of height to get more energy out of it. However, the amount energy which will be generated more is in comparison to the overall costs of that project extremely small and can in the end be compared with one wind turbine. An environmental consequence would be that the water flow will slow down even more. As a result it destroys the natural structure of the Kamp and the habitats in which the fauna and flora is dependent on. Maybe this argument sounds bearable, but it becomes stronger when we think of the fact, that we lost already over 90% of the free flowing water bodies in Austria due to dam constructions. Additionally, we are talking about peanuts when we compare the amount of energy that is being produced to Danube hydroelectric power plants, which are contributing a significant part to our energy demand. After an interesting discussion with Clemens, from the local initiative, we went to sleep at a truly remarkable location, even for Riverwalk standards. Of course, referring to his organic garden.

The next day we took a long hike to Rosenburg. The environment we crossed along the way was probably the most beautiful up to this point. This is very easy to measure, by the way. You just have to count how many times someone stops to take a photo. Anyways, we walked a lot next to the Kamp, which has a lot variation in its flora and fauna at this point. One can imagine the biodiversity in this valley by the fact that we were watching two kingfishers flying along the Kamp while someone else spotted at the same time a beaver cruising around in the shallow water. In the end, we passed the power plant in Rosenburg and shortly after arrived at our sleeping point.

Today, we made a break from hiking and instead met Hans, a local biologist. Together we went back to the power plant where he gave us further details about the ongoing conflict, concerning the dam. Furthermore, we discussed the possible consequences for the environment in case of an expansion. Later on we walked around the area and onto an old castle while talking about many topics surrounding the interest of the local citizens. We went back to our place at around seven. By foot. In conclusion today wasn’t really a break from hiking, was it?

Update Riverwalk-Austria: Getting Our Feet Wet & the Water Framework Directive

It has been a while since the first blog post due to some unexpected changes in our program. Two days ago we were not able to settle down at the meadow that we had planned. It was a challenge to find an appropriate alternative to put up the tarps. The only suitable place to stay forced us to carry all our equipment out of the car, over the river, which seemed frustrating at first, because we thought of all the weight of our mobile kitchen, but with a chain of Riverwalkers it was easily done. Just like the river, the demand of Compeed bandages (for blisters) grows each day.

Joel, one of the Riverwalkers, discovered the passion of carving along the way and we are glad to see that the amount of cuts (not on the wood) he is getting per day is decreasing steadily. Furthermore, we started to play some games in the evening which is the reason why some of us are going to get haunted by domesticated animals in their dreams, and we had some heated discussions on the campfire.

Magdalena, a Generation Earth member who currently works with WWF-Austria on an European water campaign, joined us recently and held a workshop concerning her work.  She presented facts, like:

  • There is a global decline of approximately 81 % of fresh water animal species in the last decades (1970-2012) according to WWF living planet report index.
  • 60 % of Austrian rivers are not in a good ecological state. Under the current European water legislation (Water Framework Directive) this has to be changed.

She also gave us an overview on European policy making in water legislation. Currently a so-called, “fitness check” of the existing European water legislation is taking place. Which means: the protection of our rivers is in danger. After the workshop we discussed possibilities to raise public awareness for river protection during this sensitive process of policy making.

We discussed for example actions than can be done during the European water conference in Vienna this September.  For example, check out this amazing event called Water Bodies being organized by some Generation Earth members: https://www.facebook.com/events/370768170120248/

Water Bodies is a Flashmob that will combine artistic expression and environmental protection! Generation Earth will host the event together with the renowned choreographers AIKO KAZUKO KUROSAKI and DARREL TOULON, with music from ELECTRIC:INDIGO. Event will take place during the European Water Conference from September 20-21 in Vienna.

After this interesting input, (thank you Magdalena :), we had lunch – mjammy – and started to walk again.

Riverwalk-Austria 2018 – Our adventure begins!

Two days ago the Riverwalk team met in Liebenau (Hirschau) to get to know each other. We had the possibility to talk about safety, cooking and some basic rules during the walk. Shortly after we were sweating because of the high temperatures, a local storm caught us by surprise. We immediately searched shelter under our tarps while the rain quickly turned into hail. It got pretty heavy and lasted for about an hour. Our team spirit got tested early on! In the end we managed to keep us relatively save and dry and the sun later on helped us to completely dry our stuff for a surprisingly comfortable night under the tarps.

Today we finally started our walk. We found quite a lot of berries on our way to Komau, our final destination for today, which made the heat more bearable. We arrived after approximately 5 hours. Afterwards we enjoyed the refreshingly cold water of the Kamp where we took the chance to take a bath after the tiring walk. Now we are preparing everything for the following night.

Not 1 but 2 Riverwalks in 2018!!!

Get ready for some exciting news! 

It’s official, there will be 2 Riverwalks this year!

WWF-Germany’s “Jugend program” proudly presents their first Riverwalk to take place along the Ammer River in Southwest Germany.  And you can take part and walk with them – 92 km and 10 days along the beautiful Ammer River!

When? 8-17 August 2018

Where? Southwest Germany – along the Ammer River.  We’ll start in Ettal and walk along the river until Dießen.

Why? We would like to give you the opportunity to discover together with other young people the Ammer and its natural beauty. However, our goal is not just experiencing this beautiful region but also why the Ammer is endangered and how to protect it. Seeing the problems and learning something about possible solutions, we will also get in touch with the EU Water Framework Directive learning more about it and its importance for living rivers, because healthy rivers all over Europe. And that’s why we are walking – for our rivers!

What? You can expect ten exiting days, sleeping outside under a tarp, hiking every day along the Ammer, cooking together for ourselves, connecting each other and learning more about the Ammer, the EU Water Framework Directive and ways to protect such amazing rivers.

Who is organising this? We are young members from the WWF Jugend in Germany organising quite often campaigns on local and national level.

You would like to join us? Great! Just sign up – here: http://bit.ly/AnmeldungRW2018

Deadline:  July 22, 2018

Contact: Franziska Losse franziska.losse@posteo.de