Europe's largest river protection area on the verge of gaining approval

Europe's largest river protection area could soon be created along three rivers - the Danube, the Drava and the Mur. On 7 May, after also receiving the green light from Austria, five countries (Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia in addition to Austria) submitted proposal documents for a 5-country conservation area to UNESCO.

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White willow is a typical tree species found in many of the wooded areas along the river system.

© Martin Schneider-Jacoby

Situated between Austria and Serbia is one of Europe’s last intact dynamic river landscapes - the Danube-Drava-Mur Region. Whilst, in the respective countries which adjoin them, individual stretches of river already enjoy protected status, the entire river system could soon be placed under protection. The river system extends over 700 kilometres and covers an area of approximately 930,000 hectares. Floodplain landscapes are at the very heart of the region which is also known as “Europe’s Amazon” and is home to, among others, Europe's largest population of white-tailed eagles with over 140 breeding pairs. The biosphere reserve would be a model region for transboundary nature conservation in Europe and have significant standing. Since 1990, EuroNatur has been campaigning with its partners (including WWF Austria) to protect the Danube, Drava and Mur rivers. After 30 years, that goal is now within reach: UNESCO’s recognition of the biosphere reserve is expected in summer 2021.

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