The first of its kind in the world, a newly declared UNESCO biosphere reserve will span five countries.
The Mura-Drava-Danube reserve symbolizes a historic step towards a new age for people and wildlife in Europe, as well as an international model for regional conservation, climate resilience, and sustainable development, at a time when the world is experiencing climate and natural disasters.
The biosphere reserve, which stretches through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia, covers 700 km of the Mura, Drava, and Danube rivers and a total area of about 1 million ha in the so-called “Amazon of Europe,” making it the continent’s largest riverine protected area.
The new Mura-Drava-Danube reserve, with its floodplain forests, gravel and sandbanks, islands, oxbows, and riverine meadows, supports tremendous biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of 900,000 people.
The region is home to Otters, Eurasian Beavers, and highly endangered sturgeons, as well as continental Europe’s highest population of breeding White-tailed Eagles. Every year, it serves as a critical stopover for over 250,000 migratory birds.
The biosphere reserve makes a significant contribution to the European Green Deal as well as the EU’s new biodiversity strategy’s implementation. It also serves as an example to the rest of the world of how the preservation of distinctive natural places must be balanced with long-term development.
Additional EU-funded projects for nature and people are already being implemented in the area at a cost of around €20 million, including river restoration, sustainable business practices, and enhanced cross-border cooperation on conservation and management of the area, in addition to the reserve’s designation.
The new biosphere reserve is the culmination of years of hard work by the governments of the five nations, with help from WWF, the Mava Foundation, the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Committees, and a number of local conservation organizations.