According to a statement from the World Wide Fund for Nature, UNESCO declared Mura-Drava-Danube (MDD) as the world’s first “five-country biosphere reserve” on September 15, 2021.
The Mura, Drava, and Danube biosphere reserves include 700 kilometers of the Mura, Drava, and Danube rivers in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia.
The reserve’s entire size — a million hectares — in the so-called “Amazon of Europe” makes it the continent’s biggest riverine protected area.
The new reserve “marked a significant contribution to the European Green Deal and helps to the execution of the EU Biodiversity Strategy in the Mura-Drava-Danube area,” according to a statement from the WWF.
By 2030, the plan aims to revitalise 25,000 kilometers of rivers and preserve 30% of the European Union’s land area.
The recognition of MDD was “a mandate to all five nations to cooperatively promote the preservation and revitalisation of the Mura-Drava-Danube region and enhance sustainable business practises,” according to the organisation.
Floodplain woods, gravel and sand banks, river islands, oxbows, and meadows may all be found in the reserve.
It is home to the greatest nesting population of white-tailed eagles in continental Europe (about 150 pairs), as well as endangered species including the tiny tern, black stork, otters, beavers, and sturgeons.
According to WWF, it is also a significant yearly resting and feeding site for more than 250,000 migrating birds. The biosphere reserve is home to almost 900,000 people.
Additional initiatives for the environment and people are already underway in the region. They are co-financed by the European Union and have a total budget of approximately 20 million euros.
River revitalization, sustainable business practises, and cross-border collaboration is all highlighted in these initiatives.
The Amazon of Europe Bike Path, sponsored by the Interreg Danube Transnational Programme, is a 1,250-kilometer long-distance cycling trail that follows the Mura, Drava, and Danube river sceneries. When you book this cycling trip, a portion of your money will go toward local environmental conservation projects.