Future Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
  • Spot
  • Protected Area
    Protected Area
  • Threat

A transboundary biosphere reserve for the benefit of nature and people

Preserving the valuable transboundary ecosystem requires
wise conservation efforts.

A Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve will combine the cluster of more than 10 single protected areas of the Mura-Drava-Danube region and jointly manage the shared river ecosystem in a sustainable manner, encouraging economic impetus and development in the region.

The Biosphere Reserve concept defines about 260,000 hectares of core and buffer zones and another roughly 540,000 hectares of transition zones. The core zone is legally protected and encloses the existing protected area network as the ecological backbone of the reserve. It primarily covers the river and floodplain areas which are mostly situated within flood control dikes.

Rich fish habitats enable sustainable fisheries

The goals and measures in the core zone are predominantly focused on the preservation of natural habitats, species and processes plus restoration of already degraded areas. The buffer zone extends along the rivers outside the inundation zone. It is characterised by a mosaic of cultivated land and village areas and also contains some smaller detached zones like oxbow lakes, fish ponds and small wetlands. Extensive agriculture such as cattle grazing, hay making, organic production, marketing of local products and ecotourism occurs here. The outer transition zone provides regional economical and scientific support to the buffer zone. The majority of towns and universities are situated within this area.


In order to preserve the Mura-Drava-Danube area, WWF, EuroNatur and their conservation partners and alliances have endeavoured to form a Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” (TBR MDD).
In March 2011, in the Hungarian town of Gödöllo˝, near Budapest, in an act of great environmental leadership and transboundary cooperation, the Ministers responsible for environment and nature conservation of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia signed a joint declaration to establish the reserve. The joint declaration was founded in the preliminary bilateral agreement between Croatia and Hungary from 2009.

March 2011: Designated Ministers of Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia sign the joint declaration for a TBR MDD

The EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, advocates the initiative because it “perfectly fits into the biodiversity objectives of the EU and the Habitats and Birds Directive”. The initiative is also part of the EU Danube Regional Strategy, the regional basis for future EU funding priorities.

A huge milestone towards a pentalateral TBR MDD was achieved on 11th July 2012: the Croatian-Hungarian part of the planned 5-Country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” was officially approved by UNESCO MAB Committee in Paris. It covers  630,000 ha (about 80% of the future 5-Country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”): 240,000 ha core and buffer zones (existing protecting area network) plus additional 390,000 ha transition zones. WWF wholeheartedly congratulated the Croatian and Hungarian ministries for environment and nature protection for keeping the promise, and leading the way for Austria, Slovenia and Serbia.