Rescue Plan for the Sava River

Goran Gugic, leader of Lonjsko Pole nature park, is signing the declaration.

© EuroNatur

SavaParks nature conservation network established

Press release 1 July 2014

Radolfzell (Germany)/ Krapje (Croatia).  Last Friday and Saturday, representatives of nature conservation NGOs and protected areas along the Sava River gathered for the first time and founded the SavaParks Network. During their meeting in Krapje, in Lonjsko Polje Nature Park (Croatia), 10 representatives signed a declaration to take joint action to save the Sava and to preserve the river’s ecological values.

“It can be expected that climate change will increase the frequency of extreme weather events like the heavy rainfalls in the Sava River’s catchment area in May and the subsequent severe flooding. Therefore the top priority is to give the rivers more space. Only this can reduce the negative impacts of flooding events. In contrast, all interventions that further diminish retention areas and impair the rivers’ natural dynamics are counterproductive”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur.

Nonetheless there are plans to build numerous dams along the Sava and to develop the river for shipping. These projects are said to aim at improving the Sava region’s economic situation. But in reality, this short-sighted planning threatens to destroy one of the most outstanding European river ecosystems, to harm sustainable development of the region und to further increase the danger of flooding. Moreover, the intended economic benefits of these developments are highly questionable. “Together with the protected areas and civil society, we want to initiate a convincing concept for a sustainable development of the Sava region. The shipping and hydropower projects are leading to the absolutely wrong direction”, concludes Gabriel Schwaderer.

There are already several protected areas along the Sava River, providing important contributions to protect biodiversity and to sustainably develop this unique river landscape. But the protected areas’ administrations and the regional conservation NGOs are lacking interchange and common political work. The SavaParks Network shall enhance efficacy of the protected areas’ work beyond their borders and support the river transnationally along its entire course. Actions to protect the Sava and its floodplains were already successfully implemented in numerous areas. Ecotourism services have been developed, too. The network shall provide a platform to exchange these valuable experiences. Its members want to work together to develop and implement ideas on how the Sava River landscape may be permanently preserved and sustainably used by the local population.

“The International Sava River Basin Commission is so far only dealing with hydropower development, shipping and wastewater treatment. Very little attention is paid to preserving the Sava as a European natural heritage. The SavaParks Network shall close this gap”, says Gabriel Schwaderer. Michael Otto Foundation, Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation and Wetlands International are supporting these activities of EuroNatur.

Background information:

  • Along its 944 kilometres course and with its catchment area of nearly 100,000 square kilometres, the Sava is connecting four countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
  • Read more about the water engineering and hydropower projects along the Sava

Queries: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: +49/7732 - 92 72 0, Fax: +49/7732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail:, Internet:, Contact: Romy Durst

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