Danube-Drava area

Europe's Amazon

 / ©: Arno Mohl
The Drava is preserved in more or less natural state.
© Arno Mohl
The cross-border area of the Danube, Drava and Mura Rivers, starting in Austria and flowing through Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, is among Europe’s most important wetland areas.
The more than 400,000 ha area is comparable with tropical rainforests in terms of biodiversity and productivity. White-tailed eagles and Black storks nest in the floodplain forests; the gravel and sand banks are home to Little ringed plover, Stone curlew, and the extremely threatened Little tern. In the rivers themselves are Sterlets, Wild carp and Danube salmon. The floodplains are furthermore important as drinking water reservoirs and provide efficient flood protection as well as recreation and tourism.

Danube-Drava confluence

The confluence of the Danube and the Drava Rivers is especially valuable. Three countries meet here -- Hungary , Croatia , and Serbia & Montenegro – and their various protected territories, including Kopacki Rit in Croatia, Gornje Podunavlje in Serbia, and Gemenc-Beda-Karapancse in Hungary, represent just fragments of a single ecological unit of some 60,000 ha that is divided by national and other administrative borders. Rare black storks and white-tailed eagles are known to range between the protected areas of this whole region, and the fish travel between national territories without a passport.

The main features of the Danube floodplain are its regular floods and dynamic water regime; the consequent sedimentation processes which create the typical floodplain relief; and its outstanding biodiversity. However, being accessible and fertile, floodplains are valuable for settlement, agriculture and transport, human activities that usually destroy the wetland ecosystems.

Cross-border cooperation

Even though the entire floodplain is one ecological unit, its different parts are managed in different ways, under different degrees of nature protection. These areas are of international importance, containing large areas designated as Ramsar sites (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, especially as Waterfowl Habitats) or Important Bird Areas (IBA) by BirdLife International.

The Croatian Government's move in spring 2008 to put the Croatian areas of the Drava floodplains under official protection has made a major step toward securing international protection for the region as a whole.

It is not only the natural heritage of this area, which is so special: a complex and often turbulent history has built an intricate cultural web, embracing many ethnic groups with their own traditions and values.

Click here to learn about WWF's work for the Danube-Drava area

 

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