Over 163.000 waterbirds counted

Red-throated loon with fledgling

The Red-throated Loon depends on intact resting places.

© Bruno Dittrich

The riverine landscapes of Mur, Drava and Danube count among the most important resting and wintering refuges for waterbirds in Europe; this has again been demonstrated in this year's International Waterbird Census (IWC), which took place in January 2012, registering over 163.000 waterbirds, that means eight times more than required by the Ramsar Convention for the protection of waterfowl habitat, in order to be listed among the Wetlands of International Importance.

In addition to the large number of waterbirds, the IWC also registered a remarkable diversity of species; nine bird species alone were represented with over one percent of their regional or global population within the census area, such as the Red-throated Loon, the Greater White-fronted Goose and the Great Egret. Furthermore, 223 White-tailed Eagles were counted along the three rivers.

On good grounds, the riverine landscapes of Danube, Drava and Mur, which are exceptionally rich in species, shall be protected as a transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in future. This plan however stands in sharp contrast to the project of the shipping industry to regulate the river Danube on a 53 km-long section along the border between Croatia and Serbia. Should this project be approved, the core area of the future Biosphere Reserve and the world's first one spanning five countries, would be affected severely.

EuroNatur and its partners demand from the Croatian Government to decline the Environmental Impact Assessment and to provide for the conservation of these significant riverine landscapes along the rivers Mur, Drava and Danube without compromises. The result of this year's IWC have once again confirmed their vital ecological importance.


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