Case Study: Bioenergy in Hungary

Restoring the Tisza

The Tisza, a tributary of the Danube, is one of the most important rivers in the Carpathian basin.

But years of draining the river's wetlands for agriculture, dike construction and shipping traffic have degraded aquatic ecosystems and floodplains.

To combat these threats, a WWF project in Hungary was initiated to restore the Tisza's floodplains through various market-based solutions.

Biomass use

Biomass is being promoted to help local communities cover the costs of maintaining the floodplains.

As part of the project, farmers are removing invasive shrubs, such as Amorpha fruticosa, from the floodplains. The cut plant is sold as biomass to AES, an energy company, which then coverts it to energy.

Local municipalities and farmers can replace invasive shrubs in some former cropland areas with the planting of energy useful native trees, which will continually be cut to produce a regular supply of biomass.

Wildlife reintroduction

Another way to improve the quality of the floodplain, native animals – such as water buffalos, grey cattle and beavers –  have been re-introduced to prevent invasive shrubs from re-colonizing and to help restore the grasslands to their former species-rich glory.

Improvements to the landscape and biodiversity make the area more attractive to tourists and encourages the development of local tourism facilities, such as visitor trails or bird watch towers.

Win-win for people and nature

The restoration of degraded floodplains in Hungary's Tisza river basin has resulted in a more sustainable environment and increased income for local communities through green energy production.

WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme continues to stimulate new economic opportunities in rural areas along the Tisza River that are consistent with the principles of integrated river basin management and which contribute to, rather than threaten, nature conservation.

The Tisza River at the Romanian-Hungarian border.
	© Csaba Vaszko
Cutting invasive Amorpha plants near the Tisza River in Hungary to restore wetlands and produce biofuel at the same time.
© Csaba Vaszko

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