You can now visit the „Amazon of Europe“ from your living room
Future cross-border UNESCO biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, the so called “Amazon of Europe” is a million hectares large river landscape of lower flows of the respective rivers and one of the biggest freshwater pearls in Europe. Natural oasis that is 700 kilometers long extends throughout Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia and offers home to many protected species, such as the rare while-tailed eagle, black stork and many endemic fish species. The efforts of the WWF for the protection of this unique landscape have been ongoing for a quarter century. UNESCO has already included area in Croatia and Hungary in its heritage, and the neighbouring countries are currently in the nomination process for the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Once it is declared, this will be a great victory for humans and nature of this area.
In order to be best prepared for future development of the biosphere reserve, the state institutions in five countries, protected areas and non-governmental sector launched several EU funded projects. Project DRAVA LIFE stands out as the first project of rivers restoration in Croatia and is a great example of modern and sustainable river management in the whole region.
“EU LIFE project “DRAVA LIFE – integrated river management” is conducted through cooperation with the Croatian Waters, public authorities for protection of nature and NGOs. Partners will restore ecosystems and enhance the ecological state of the river Drava, and thus increase the supplies of underground waters and improve the flood protection. We also believe in the recovery of threatened bird species dependent on gravel islands and steep banks, like little tern and sand martin”, said Branka Španiček, project officer in WWF Adria.
Healthy and dynamic river ecosystems provide enormous benefits for local people and create opportunities for sustainable development. "coop MDD" project was launched in order to sustainably manage the future Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube and bring together 11 protected areas in five countries to align management practices to ensure a connected and dynamic ecosystem along the entire biosphere reserve.
"Connected river ecosystems are of particular importance for fish species that migrate along the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers, such as starlet or sturgeon, a living relic, which can grow up to seven meters. Through the project 'coop MDD' we will establish a network of “River schools” in all countries so that the public and schoolchildren can learn much more interesting information like this”, added Ivana Korn Varga, “coop MDD” project officer at WWF Adria.
Mura, Drava and Danube rivers are cross-border rivers and pass through a number of different countries, linking the Alps and the Black Sea. They support life along their river flow, transfer nutrients, provide drinking water and enable agriculture and fishing. Recently, they are also offering the foundations for sustainable tourism and preserved nature development. Rivers connect people who live with them, without regard for borders, and the only effective cross-border cooperation will enable us to preserve this exceptional nature and well-being that it provides to the local population.