EU-Accession of Croatia: Valuable Cultural Landscapes as "endowment"

A man with visions: Goran Gugic, EuroNatur prize winner 2011.

© Martin Schneider-Jacoby

Croatian conservationist receives EuroNatur Award 2011 

Press report June 27, 2011

Radolfzell. Last Friday, Croatia was cleared to become the newest member state of the European Union, according to plan in July 2013. " For the European Union, the 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 European Nature Heritage Fund EuroNatur. The wetlands of the river Sava, the largest feeder river of the Danube, is the only region left where traditional farming is still practised the way it was done in many central European regions until the 2nd half of the 19th century.

In accordance with the current political progress, EuroNatur will award the EuroNatur prize 2011 to the Croatian conservationist Goran Gugic in October of this year. Goran Gugic grew up in Germany, but he has been a role model for Croatia as a part of the EU long before its accession was officially decided. "By designating Lonjsko Polje in the Sava wetlands a nature park, Gugic has created a model of how cultural landscapes in Europe can be efficiently protected, thus making a valuable contribution to nature conservation in Europe." This is how Gabriel Schwaderer explains this year's choice of the prize winner. In Lonjsko Polje, an unbroken tradition of pasturing has been preserved since medieval times. Livestock husbandry of the regularly flooded pasture land is unique in Europe and the basis for an exceptional richness in species. Lesser spotted eagles, sea-eagles, spoonbills, black storks and endangered farm animals such as the Posavina horse and the Turopolje pig can still be found here.

According to Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby, EuroNatur project leader, the nature park Lonjsko Polje is exemplary for the consistent implementation of important EU-policies and conventions - among others the European Water Framework Directive and the Ramsar Convention for the protection of waterfowl habitat.
Goran Gugic, manager of the nature park Lonjsko Polje, calls his motto "living with water", showing people how to cooperate with nature instead of working against it, but without losing sight of their needs. With the increasing offers of nature tourism in the park that attract more and more guests, also the number of people returning to their villages along the Sava is continuously rising, as nature tourism provides new income sources.

Beyond his commitment to preserve the cultural landscape along the Sava, the EuroNatur prize winner to-be also keeps an eye on both nature conservation in the rest of Croatia and 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 in the border areas of Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Serbia.  

Background information:

  • 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 Convention.
  • Read more about EuroNatur projects for the protection of the Sava wetlands.

Goran Gugic speaks fluently German and is gladly available for interviews. We will be pleased to put you into contact.

Please contact:

Konstanzer Straße 22
78315 Radolfzell
Phone.: 07732 - 92 72 10
Fax: 07732 - 92 72 22
Press contact: Katharina Grund

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