First “Amazon of Europe day”

Meandering river with alluvial forests and reed

The Drava holds one of the last pristine riverine landscapes in Europe.

© Mario Romulic,

Mura, Drava and Danube river networks need protection

Press release, July 15th, 2013

Radolfzell. Supported by EuroNatur and WWF, numerous partner NGOs from Croatia and Hungary, together with politicians from both countries, celebrated the first international “Amazon of Europe day” on July 14th. The celebrations took place at the confluence of the Drava and Mura rivers in Legrad (Croatia). Additionally, several events along the riverbanks of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers called attention to the high ecological value of Europe’s last pristine river systems and the threats they are facing.

Nearly one year ago, UNESCO approved the precious river and floodplain landscapes along the border of Croatia and Hungary as the centrepiece of the planned five-country biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube. The three rivers and their floodplains connect Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia over a distance of 700 kilometres. The first Amazon of Europe day was dedicated to the man who, as EuroNatur’s project coordinator, developed the vision of a transboundary protected area together with conservationists from the five riparian states. Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby passed away much too soon in August 2012. Born on July 14th, 1956, he dedicated most of his life to the conservation of Europe’s natural heritage. His work for the Drava-Mura stream network was outstandingly commendable.

“The labyrinth of oxbow lakes, islands and hidden sandbanks creates a unique mosaic of now rare habitats, hardly to be found anywhere else in Europe. The biodiversity of these river and floodplain habitats is outstanding. But at the same time, this Amazon of Europe is highly threatened by destructive projects like gravel extraction, river channelling and hydropower plants”, EuroNatur's director Gabriel Schwaderer says. As an example, there are plans for 8 hydropower plants along the Mura in Slovenia, with the licensing procedure for the first plant already on the way. It will be situated in the centre of the Natura 2000 site at the border with Austria.

“All riparian states of Mura, Drava and Danube are EU member states or, in the case of Serbia, candidate country. Thus, EU Nature and Water Directives oblige them to efficiently protect their river networks and to obey to the rule of non-deterioration”, Gabriel Schwaderer states.

Background information:

  • The “Amazon of Europe day” is part of EuroNatur’s and WWF’s efforts since the early 1990s to protect and conserve the transboundary river network of Danube, Drava and Mura as a five-country UNESCO biosphere reserve.



EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: 07732 - 92 72 10, Fax: 07732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail:, Internet:, Contact: Romy Durst, Press contact: Katharina Grund


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