Croatian conservationist awarded with EuroNatur prize 2011
Press release from 27. September 2011
Radolfzell. „For the European Union, the agreed accession of Croatia implies a valuable gain in unique natural and cultural landscapes that are hard to find anywhere else in Central Europe", says Gabriel Schwaderer, director of the Europe-wide active Nature Heritage Fund EuroNatur. Part of these nature treasures are the wetlands of the river Sava, located southeast of Zagreb, the largest wetlands in Europe with an extension of over 1.200 square kilometres. On October 2011, Goran Gugic, manager of the nature park Lonjsko Polje, will be awarded with this year's EuroNatur prize on the island of Mainau, Lake Constance.
"As manager of the nature park Lonjsko Polje in the Sava wetlands, Goran Gugic has created a model of how cultural landscapes in Europe can be efficiently protected." This is how Gabriel Schwaderer explains this year's choice of the EuroNatur prize winner. "Living with water" is the slogan of the Nature Park Lonjsko Polje, managed by Goran Gugic since 1998, today counting among the best-administered nature parks in Southeast Europe.
Once or twice every year, the inflowing water transforms the Lonjsko Polje, where an unbroken tradition of pasturing has been preserved since medieval times, into a huge lake. The pasture land serves as holding basin for the floods of the river Sava, the largest influent of the Danube. These basins accomodate an exceptional richness in species; the lesser spotted eagle, sea-eagle, spoonbills, black storks and endangered farm animals such as the Posavina horse and the Turopolje pig can still be found here.
An essential part of Goran Gugic's concepts for the protection of this unique natural and cultural landscape is to intensely incorporate local people in the Nature Park Lonjsko Polje. More and more people are returning to their villages along the Sava, as the increasing number of nature tourists attracted to the region provides new income sources.
But Goran Gugic's commitment goes far beyond the Nature Park Lonjsko Polje; he always keeps an eye on both nature conservation in the rest of Croatia and also abroad. As early as 1993, he gave the crucial impetus to take up the idea of a trans-border biosphere reserve along the rivers Mur-Drava-Danube. On March 25, 2011, the environment ministers of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia signed a joint declaration of intent, fixing the aim of creating the first UNESCO biosphere reserve worldwide that stretches over the borders of five countries.
- EuroNatur Award: former prize winners were among others Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Karl Ludwig Schweisfurth, Prince Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, Luc Hoffmann and Dr. Hans Bibelriether. The EuroNatur Award is not endowed; it honours outstanding achievements in nature conservation. Goran Gugic will be given the EuroNatur 2011 Award on October 12, 2011 on the island of Mainau, Lake Constance.
- Goran Gugic grew up in Germany, studied forestry in Munich and moved to Lonjsko Polje in 1992, despite of the war in former Yugoslavia, to work for a EuroNatur project. Since 1998 he manages the nature park. Besides, he is member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas ,chairman of the Croatian UNESCO-Committee „Man and Biosphere“ and member of the standing committee of the Ramsar-Konvention.
- Read more about EuroNatur projects for the protection of the Sava wetlands and about Lonjsko Polje Nature Park.
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