Press Corner

  • 07
    Action for river protection: WWF celebrates 2nd Amazon of Europe Day across five countries
    BIG JUMPs and various cross-border events in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube
    20140713_Amazon of Europe Day and Big Jump_Festival at Border Mura between Apace (SI) and Donnersdorf (AT) Halbenrain/Austria, Apace/Slovenia, Križnica/Croatia, Gemenc/Hungary, Sombor/Serbia – July 14th, 2014 – Joined by EuroNatur and many local partner NGOs, WWF celebrated the second Amazon of Europe Day on 13 July with various events on the natural riverbanks of the Mura, Drava and Danube. Thousands of people all over Europe simultaneously jumped into their rivers to set the stage for water protection and send their message about the high ecological value of wetlands and living rivers in contrary to lifeless channels that serve only for navigation and electricity production.

    The Mura river, bordering Slovenia and Austria, is the western portal of entry into the mutual five-country river area that also spans Croatia, Hungary and Serbia and is likely to become Europe’s largest cross-border protected area under the UNESCO flag. “I am convinced that the shared ecological treasures of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers have the tremendous potential to bring our five countries closer. Their long-term protection requires, nevertheless, broad local support and involvement of the people in all five countries,” says Arno Mohl, project leader from WWF Austria.

    Stojan Habjanic of the International Mura Committee has been working on the protection of the Mura river for many years. He adds: “We strongly oppose new hydro dams and will do everything we can to preserve the free-flowing Mura, home to over 50 endangered fish species.” At the Natura 2000 site where Mura straddles along the two countries as a natural border, both people from Halbenrain/AUT and Apace/SLO jumped together for the Amazon of Europe yesterday afternoon. Guided tours through the riparian forests and the WWF “River Mystery Tent” provided information on the animal inhabitants of the rivers and floodplains for the young ones were also organized.

    In Hungary, the winners of an online competition on TBR MDD values were invited to join a canoe tour to celebrate the Amazon of Europe. “We invited more than 40,000 people to the competition and received many correct answers. We are happy to offer to winners a relaxing but exciting experience in the nature. A canoe tour is the best way to get to know the ecological values of the nature protected areas along our rivers” says Tamas Gruber, head of freshwater program at WWF Hungary. The canoe tour took place at Gemenc, a side-arm of Danube, which was restored by Danube-Drava National Park a couple of years ago, and is now enjoying an improved water supply from the Danube.

    In Sombor, Serbia, river enthusiasts jumped into the waters of the Danube at the Veliki Bački canal. Especially in Serbia, the flood disasters along the Sava river in May 2014 have sadly demonstrated that rivers can develop destructive power if deprived of their natural floodplain areas (which protect villages and infrastructure from harmful floods). The participants of the Amazon of Europe Day in accordance with the local NGOs and representatives of city authorities held a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the floods. Duska Dimovic, head of WWF-DCPO in Begrade, stated: “We are deeply saddened by the dramatic losses of life and homes caused by tremendous floods this spring. It is important to prevent such effects in the future by finding natural solutions for flood mitigation. Restoring the natural capacity of the floodplains in the TBR MDD to retain flood waters would help to protect people from flood impacts and will also provide important benefits to nature, people, and local economies.”

    In Križnica, Croatia, where the Drava river winds around the small town Pitomača, few hundred participants took part in the BIG JUMP and visited the Living Danube Tour, travelling exhibition, organized regionally by WWF. Living rivers were promoted through various games for children and adults. The municipality recognized the value of the Amazon Amazon of Europe day with a special cultural programme on the bank of the river Drava. With its EU accession almost a year ago, Croatia added its most valuable rivers into the common European natural heritage Natura 2000 network, including the Danube, Drava, Mura, Sava, Zrmanja, Neretva and Ombla rivers. Irma Popovic of WWF-MedPo in Zagreb said: “The first Amazon of Europe Day was held in Legrad, the second one in Križnica, now we are inviting all other municipalities, local initiatives and CSOs to join WWF in celebrating this remarkable natural and cultural area by organizing the Amazon of Europe Day on their parts of TBR MDD”.

    The Amazon of Europe Day is celebrated as an annual powerful reminder of Martin Schneider-Jacoby, who pioneered the international protection of the river system of ‘Europe’s Amazon’ and dedicated his life to save rivers and wetlands across the Balkan region until he passed away far too early in 2012.

    We thank the MAVA Foundation, the Asamer Holding and the Coca-Cola Company for their support of the WWF project for the trans-boundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube.

    More information and photographs from the events are available on request.
    Contact for international media: Tanja Nikowitz, WWF Austria, Mura-Drava-Danube project, Tel. +43 676 83 488 219, E-Mail: 
  • 04
    WWF jubilates: Bird paradise Kopacki Rit saved
    Croatian environment ministry stops regulation project of the Danube´s best preserved wetland
    Zagreb, Vienna, April 7, 2014 - The Croatian Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection has stopped one of the largest planned destructions of nature on the Danube River. A 53-kilometer long natural stretch of the Danube along the Croatian-Serbian border had been under huge pressure from the Croatian inland navigation agency to be regulated and channelized. As a result, the Kopacki Rit Nature Park in Croatia, an internationally renowned bird paradise, as well as Serbias most important Danube´s Nature Reserve „Gornje Podunavlje“, would have literally dried out. "Stopping this senseless destruction of one of the most valuable floodplains of the entire Danube is a major success for nature conservation in Europe," says Arno Mohl of WWF.

    The decision of the Croatian Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection of March 26th, 2014 comes along the massive resistance of conservation organizations such as WWF, EuroNatur, Birdlife International, Wetland international as well as local NGOs. More than 20,000 people have supported a petition to save the Kopacki Rit in 2012. The EU Commission and the EU Parliament had opposed the regulation project, which is contrary to EU law.

    Kopacki Rit lies in the strictly protected core zone of the future five-country Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve, which is also listed as a Ramsar site, a wetland of international importance. The river regulation project would have seriously damaged it, threatening its stunning biodiversity: Some 300 species of birds, 64 species of fish and up to 50 wild cats live in Kopacki Rit, core zone of the future pentalateral UNESCO biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, known as the "Amazon of Europe". In January 2014, during the first cross-border white tailed eagle census along the Danube, the area was identified as the most important wintering place for the white tailed Eagle in Europe.

    Although the governments of Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia have agreed to protect the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers, their natural values are still at stake. The water management lobby in Croatia may restart the regulation project in the near future. In addition, a huge hydropower dam is planned on the Drava River in Croatia near Osijek, which would destroy the natural meandering Drava River and massively impact upon Kopacki Rit.

    "The "Amazon of Europe" needs our continuous support," says Arno Mohl of WWF. As part of the protection concept for the future Biosphere Reserve along the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers, WWF and its project partners also promote the restoration of already degraded sections of the rivers.

    Claudia Mohl, WWF Press Officer, Tel. 0043 676/83 488 203, E-Mail: 
  • 01
    International Winter Census: “Amazon of Europe” hosts highest density of White-tailed Eagles in the Danube region
    International Winter Census of water birds on DanubeOver 230 White-tailed Eagles and 100.000 other waterbirds counted in the floodplains of Mura, Drava and Danube

    Osijek, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Belgrade, January 31st, 2014 – Mid January, voluntary counters of a dozen NGOs from Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Austria were monitoring 3.000 river kilometres along the Danube, as well as along the lower stretches of the Drava and Mura rivers. The bird watchers were taking part in the traditional international mid-winter waterfowl count coordinated by Wetlands International, as well as in the first synchronous Danube-wide White-tailed Eagle winter census. The result is pleasant: in the countries of the future pentalateral Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”, a total of 100.000 waterbirds, such as Goosanders, Great Cormorants, Greylag and White-fronted geese or Great Egrets were spotted. Amongst them are 230 individuals of White-tailed Eagles, majestic birds that are symbol for the natural treasures of the rivers and floodplains in the so-called “Amazon of Europe”.

    The highest density of White-tailed Eagles was - once more - found in the border region of Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia that forms the center of the Biosphere Reserve: over 200 individuals were observed in the Duna-Dráva National Park (Hungary), the Kopački rit Nature Park (Croatia), and the Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve (Serbia). “That proves the perfect suitability of these wetlands that are not only a top breeding habitat for the eagles but also a hot spot for the wintering large raptors”, stresses Tibor Mikuska from the Croatian Society for Bird and Nature Protection.

    Lower Danube, Drava and Mura rivers: Hot spot of rare habitats and species
    “The recent waterbird count clearly highlights those areas to be under international conservation focus timely on 2nd of February, when the RAMSAR-Convention is celebrating the international world wetlands day”, says Arno Mohl, international freshwater expert at WWF Austria. “The impressing data will serve as an important argument for the stronger protection of the rivers that are still threatened by current destructive infrastructural projects such as the planned regulation of the Croatian-Serbian Danube stretch in the heart of the Biosphere Reserve”, he adds.

    White-tailed Eagles require big and connected floodplain areas with old trees to breed and with enough prey - mainly fish, waterbird and mammals - to feed. Large protected areas play a key role in their preservation and well-being because there is a low level of disturbance by human activities. Therefore, cross-border conservation efforts are of vital importance for the population of these eagles and many other threatened birds that use the rivers and their intact floodplains to breed, rest and feed. A better knowledge on the best wintering areas helps to empower the conservation efforts.

    The Amazon of Europe is growing
    Following the Croatian-Hungarian UNESCO designation of 630.0000 ha in 2012, Serbia nominated its 177.000 hectares Danube area to the puzzle of the future 5-country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” at UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme in Paris last September. After its final designation of UNESCO, which is expected in June 2014, Austria and Slovenia would need to add their portions of the “Amazon of Europe” and lift it to the final Five –Country Transboundary Biosphere Reserve.
  • 01
    First international winter census along the whole Danube River: 750 White-tailed Eagle were spotted on January 12th by 300 counters!
    White tailed eagleHainburg (Austria) serves as nodal point in South-East European White-tailed Eagle protection these days. The Symposium on January 12th at Kulturfabrik Hainburg, initiated by BirdLife, DANUBEPARKS and WWF, brought together international White-tailed Eagle experts and over 200 interested participants.
    300 voluntary counters braved cold and wind to monitor 3.000 river kilometres at the Danube. They reported a pleasant result: In nine Danube countries, 750 Eagles were counted! The number proves the perfect suitability of the Danube River as habitat for the White-tailed Eagle.

    White tailed eagle_display flight
    The majestic White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) - Austria’s heraldic animal – is the biggest bird of prey in the Danube region. It sits on the top of the food chain and thus serves as flagship species: If the habitat is in good condition, White-tailed Eagle numbers rise. For a long time, population numbers were extremely low – in Austria the White-tailed Eagle was extinct. Intensive efforts in North and East European countries as well as by WWF Austria enabled the recovery of the population. Since 2001, the White-tailed Eagle breeds again in Austria.
    The Danube is a lifeline for Europe and a retreat for numerous threatened species. The habitats along the river and its tributaries are also important for the White-tailed Eagle - both the native South-East European population, and the Northern population that arrives for wintering in our region. Protected Areas play a key role in the preservation of those habitats.
    The importance of international cooperation is also recognized by the political level.
    Member of the provincial government of Lower Austria, Dr. Stephan Pernkopf, underlines: “Numerous White-tailed Eagle winter at Lower Austrian water bodies every year. For the long-term conservation of this impressive bird of prey, cross-border efforts are necessary however. Nature protection knows no borders. The White-tailed Eagle Symposium once again makes Lower Austria – the province of nature – an international node for nature protection.”
    Danube-wide census
    DANUBEPARKS elaborated an Action Plan for the conservation of the White-tailed Eagle along the Danube in 2009, which was adopted by the Council of Europe. As a first step in implementation, better knowledge on wintering areas is needed: Where are the best areas, what makes them attractive, are special conservation actions necessary?
    To answer these questions, the first synchronous Danube-wide winter census including the Symposium was coordinated this year. Based on many years of joint efforts in eagle conservation along the Danube, the event was jointly organized by BirdLife, DANUBEPARKS, and WWF.
    The result of yesterdays count – 750 White-tailed Eagles – proves the success of common nature protection efforts across borders and underlines the value of the Danube River as habitat of European importance!
    The Hot Spots for White-tailed Eagle
    The cross-border region of Donau-Auen National Park, Morava River, and neighbouring Slovak-Hungarian floodplains represents one of the hot spots: over 100 eagles were spotted there. Improved joint protection measures should preserve this population in the long run.
    The most important region for White-tailed Eagles along the whole Danube lies in a border triangle too, covering regions in Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia. 200 individuals were announced from there – the conservation efforts of Duna-Dráva National Park, Kopački rit Nature Park, and Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve are pivotal for this population. These jewels of nature at “Europe’s Amazon” are soon also to be protected in a multilateral UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
    The Lower Danube has big potential: At the Bulgarian and Romanian section, eagles currently concentrate on few hot spots, especially the Danube Delta. The total counted in these two countries was 360 eagles.
    During the Symposium in Hainburg, the Danube countries announced the results provided by the 300 counters promptly after the census. The collected live contributions formed a complete picture on the distribution of wintering White-tailed Eagle at the Danube River for the first time! The event also served to bring together experts from several countries. Their experience will support the improved protection of White-tailed Eagle, the understanding of its requirements, and the joint efforts against threats like habitat loss, illegal hunting, or poisoning.
    The high public interest proves the support for the topic: More than 200 participants joined the excursion, listened to lectures, and experienced the arrival of latest census results. The Symposium is thus a strong statement for a diverse nature, where the White-tailed Eagle acts as a symbol for the natural treasures along the Danube.

    For further inquiries:
    Mag. Bettina Klöpzig, BirdLife Österreich
    mobil: +43/699/18155565, 
    Mag. Erika Dorn, Nationalpark Donau-Auen / DANUBEPARKS
    Tel.: 02212/3450-16, mobil: +43/676/84223526, , 
    Claudia Mohl, WWF Österreich
    Tel. 01/48817-250, mobil: +43/676/83488203, 
  • 10
    WWF jubilates: The “Amazon of Europe” is growing
    Valuable Danube Floodplains of Serbia nominated for UNESCO designation
    Floodplains in Gornje Podunavlje Nature Reserve Belgrade, Zagreb, Budapest, Ljubljana, Vienna/ October 3rd, 2013 – The Republic of Serbia has recently nominated its part of the territory of the future Five-country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” at UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme in Paris. The Serbian area corresponds to almost 20 per cent of the “Amazon of Europe” which borders and will be jointly conserved by Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.

    „Following the Croatian-Hungarian UNESCO designation in 2012, another important piece was added to the puzzle of what will once be Europe’s largest river protected area”, said Arno Mohl, freshwater expert and leader of the initiative at WWF. “We trust that this approach of Serbia will encourage Austria and Slovenia to include their shares of the Drava and Mura landscapes into the joint reserve very soon”, he added. Jasna Zrnović, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO of the Republic of Serbia, emphasises: “Besides its regional importance, the nomination is also a good example how nature conservation can bring countries together.“

    Summing up to nearly 177.000 hectares, Serbia’s recent input into the future Trans-boundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, consists of four protected areas in five municipalities, including the Special Nature Reserves Gornje Podunavlje and Karadordevo. Situated in the north-western part of the country, the Vojvodina region represents one of the best preserved wetland and floodplain habitats along the whole Danube course: Floodplain forests, river islands and oxbow lakes host valuable species such as the White-tailed Eagle, Black Stork, Ferruginous Duck, Wildcat and Otter as well as the biggest population of Red deer in Serbia. The region also scores highly for its stunning cultural heritage, which is a proof of the lively past of many peoples and cultures.

    European otter in Gornje Podunavlje Nature Reserve

    “The ‘Amazone of Europe’ project is an excellent example of an initiative which connects the conservation of both biodiversity and cultural heritage and is thus a symbol of regional cooperation and sustainable development in South-Eastern Europe”, said Duška Dimović, Director of the WWF Danube Carpathian Programme in Serbia. WWF involved all relevant stakeholders into the nomination process, especially protected areas’ managers and local governments.

    The final decision for a UNESCO designation of the Serbian territory will be taken by the International Co-ordinating Council of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme on the occasion of their meeting in Paris in June 2014.

    The WWF conservation work for the protection of the “Amazon of Europe” is financially supported by the MAVA Foundation, Asamer Holding and The Coca-Cola Company.

  • 09
    WWF’s “Amazon of Europe” initiative is European Riverprize finalist
    Janez Potocnik Commissioner for the Environment at Riverprize Gala Vienna, Austria – The WWF and EuroNatur initiative to establish a five-country UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube“ across Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia has been recognized as a finalist for the 2013 European Riverprize of the International River Foundation.

    The prize itself was awarded to the River Rhine for remarkable achievements in integrated river basin management following a 50 year legacy of river degradation and a devastating chemical accident in 1986.

    “Being one of only four finalists is an important achievement and we regard this as an assignment for us to carry on combating unsustainable river management and upcoming plans for new hydropower dams as well as to increase the efforts for the restoration of already degraded river stretches in the Mura-Drava-Danube area”, said Arno Mohl, WWF Project leader. “I hope this nomination also inspires other initiatives all over Europe to fight for living rivers – there are many magnificent landscapes and rare species threatened and worth saving.”

    The “Mura-Drava-Danube“ will be the world’s first five-country UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Europe’s largest riverine protected area and can be seen as a flagship for regional cooperation and sustainable development based on a “green vision”. It will cover more than 800,000 hectares and be a safe home to the highest density of breeding pairs of White-tailed eagles in Europe and other endangered species such as the Little tern, Black stork, Otters and Beavers.

    The award, a sculpture which symbolizes a meandering river, was awarded during a celebratory gala in Vienna on Thursday evening.

    About the IRF European Riverprize
    Awarded by the International River Foundation in partnership with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and the European Centre for River Restoration (ECRR), the IRF European Riverprize is one of the world’s largest environmental awards, giving recognition, reward and support to those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programmes in river management. Read more: _european.php

    The Mura-Drava-Danube initiative was competing with three other finalists who work on the Orbigo River in Spain, the Rhine River in all Rhine Basin countries and the Upper Drava River in Austria.
    Read more: _IRF_European_Riverprize_Finalists

    About the “Mura-Drava-Danube”Trans-Boundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
    The Mura-Drava-Danube area is home to the highest density of breeding pairs of White-tailed eagles in Europe and other endangered species such as the Little tern, Black stork, Otters and Beavers. It is also the last refuge for the nearly extinct Ship sturgeon and an important stepping stone for more than 250,000 migratory waterfowls every year. The river ecosystem provides the people who live near it with drinking water and a natural flood protection, and is essential for sustainable forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

    The struggle for these unique rivers and floodplains under the name “Amazon of Europe” has a long history. Since 1993, WWF, EuroNatur and local NGOs have been campaigning for the transboundary protection and against destructive river projects - river regulation, gravel and sand extraction, hydro dams - along the lower courses of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers. Step by step, public administrations and NGOs have cooperated to jointly achieve the Biosphere Reserve. At the same time, river restoration projects have been enhanced and formal protection by the public administrations of the individual countries was pushed. During the last 15 years, the five governments set up 12 protected areas along their sections of the rivers, thus forming the backbone of trans-boundary protection.

    In 2009 Croatia and Hungary signed a Joint Declaration, followed in 2011 by a five-country Ministerial Declaration. On 11 July 2012, the UNESCO MAB Committee in Paris officially approved the Croatian-Hungarian part of the Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”. Since then 80 per cent of the future five-country protected area, corresponding to 630,000 hectares of riverine landscape, are already under international protection. And further good news is that Serbia plans to nominate its area for UNESCO designation in September 2013.
  • 08
    Program of Bodrog Festival in Bački Monoštor, Serbia, 9-10 August 2013
    Bodrog Festival in Backi Monostor (RS)Friday, 09 August

    19 h Bodrog pot - fish stew cooking contest with tamburica - center of the village

    Saturday, 10 August

    10 h Children’s Program -"Back to the Middle Ages“-park in front of the Library

    10 h Photo Exhibition of PC Club "Rada Krstic" Sombor - in front of Library
    10 h Exhibition "Water labrint" by Szilárd Kovac - TV Hall
    10 h Exhibition of photographs from SRP "Gornje Podunavlje" by Jaroslav Pap - Library

    10h - Bodrog fortress making- CA "Straw"-in front of the center stage

    12 h - 14 h Opening ceremony - the central stage

    Joseph Djipanov report, majorettes Senta, complimentary recitals, horse parade of riders and carriages, declaring winners, children’s performance group KUDH"Bodrog"      
             Children Choir "Šareni vokali" Sombor, Karate Club "Nidan" Backi Monoštor

    14:30 h promotion of the Mimi Peterson Huge book - TV Hall

    15h fifth birthday celebration of Ethno house "Mali Bodrog" with photo exhibition of old Monoštor - by Augustin Juriga, Ethno-house "Mali Bodrog"

    16 h classical program - St. Peter and Paul

    VIS Petrus Backi Monoštor, MPG "Ižipci" Topolje, Iuventus Cantat Sombor
    Musica Viva Svetozar Miletic, Singing group Ravangrad Sombor

    18 h cultural program - central stage
    KUDH "Bodrog" Backi Monoštor, recital – Antun Kovač, URB "Rumunka"
             Backi Monoštor, recital - Kata Kovač, GKUD "Ravangrad" Sombor, recital - Adam Bešlin-Nova, MPG "Ižipci" Topolje, recital - Anita Đipanov, FA "Bilje" Bilje, HKC "Srem Croatian house" Sremska Mitrovica, CAS "Neven" Aleksa Santic

    19:30 h Play "Helen of Anjou" - CA "Jerina city" Trstenik - central stage

    20 h concert - "Slavonske Lole" - the central stage

    22 h Bodrog by night / Deep Down & Dirty / stage in front of Library

    * Stands with local products and crafts
    * The rich gastronomic offer

    Download the program: Word-Document Program of Bodrog Festival in Bački Monoštor, Serbia, 9-10 August 2013 
  • 07
    WWF: First ever Amazon of Europe Day kicked off with “Big Jumps” into Mura, Drava and Danube rivers on 14 July
    Cross-border events in the transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube
    Traditional Croatian DanceBad Radkersburg/Austria, Hrastje Mota/Slovenia, Legrad/ Croatia, Örtilos/Hungary, Sombor/Serbia – WWF in alliance with EuroNatur and many partner NGOs celebrated the first Amazon of Europe Day on 14 July 2013 with various events on the natural riverbanks of the Mura, Drava and Danube.
    The three rivers span Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Serbia and will become Europe’s largest cross-border protected area under the UNESCO flag.

    “14 July is about the celebration of this amazing riverine landscape shared by five countries. It will also be an annual powerful reminder of Martin Schneider-Jacoby, who pioneered the international protection of the transboundary river system of ‘Europe’s Amazon’, and will encourage us what we can achieve when we work together”, WWF freshwater expert Arno Mohl said.

    Even before the Amazon of Europe Day, various outdoor activities on and along the Mura, Drava and Danube have started in different places of the region. In Croatia, conservationists dedicated the past four weeks to reveal the “Seven River Wonders of Croatia” to the public, showing the natural river treasures which the country contributed to Europe’s natural heritage when it joined the EU on 1 July.

    Croatia’s protected rivers like the Danube, Drava, Mura, Sava, Neretva, Ombla and Zrmanja are now part of the Natura 2000 network but are still threatened by river channelling, gravel and sand extraction and hydropower plants – measures that have to be now, more than ever, in accordance with EU law.

    A boat tour from Bad Radkersburg in Austria to Hrastje Mota in Slovenia was carried out where the Mura River straddles along the two countries as a natural border and is protected as a Natura 2000 site. Just at this western entrance door to the future Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, a disastrous hydro dam is likely to be built, destroying Slovenia’s largest floodplain forest.

    On 14 July citizens and politicians from Croatia and Hungary were invited to celebrate together at Legrad, where the Mura River flows into the Drava. Zoltan Illes, Hungarian state secretary for environmental affairs, was also present. “It is significantly important that the previous plans of hydropower developments have been removed from the agenda and both countries focus on preserving ecological balance and improving status of nature conservation values”, he said.

    WWF and partners handed over a petition to the Croatian deputy minister of environment and nature protection, Mr. Hrvoje Dokoza, demanding a better protection of the Croatian rivers, now referring to EU law. “Along numerous activities that we implement in protection of natural values of the extremely significant river ecosystem Mura-Drava-Danube, our wish is to further approximate the benefits of the conserved nature to the local population. Certainly, one of these potentials is the development of tourism in the internationally recognized biosphere reserve and it can considerably contribute the economic development of this area. Therefore the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection wishes to collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism on the promotion of the ecologically sustainable tourism on the area of biosphere reserve. Thereby the promotional activities are planned for September”, Hrvoje Dokoza said.

    Participants of the event also took part in the “Big Jump” into the waters of Mura and Drava
    as a demonstration for living rivers, in contrary to lifeless channels that serve only for navigation and electricity production.

    At the same time in Sombor, Serbia, river enthusiasts also jumped into the Danube and celebrated their share of the “Amazon of Europe”. Kids painted their visions of the biosphere reserve in colourful drawings that will be presented at an exhibition at the Bodrog festival in the village of Bački Monoštor in August.

    “In memorial of Martin Schneider-Jacoby who was born on 14 July, the Amazon of Europe Day will become a symbol of people’s concern and commitment to save their rivers across borders”, said Gabriel Schwaderer, executive director of EuroNatur. Martin Schneider-Jacoby had worked for EuroNatur ever since its founding in 1987 until his sudden death in August 2012.

    “Martin Schneider-Jacoby had dedicated most of his life to the conservation of Central and East European and Balkan rivers but he sadly left us much too early. Thanks to his vision for large scale transboundary protection of the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers already in the early 1990s, he can truly be called the “father” of the UNESCO biosphere reserve. Together we will carry on and finalise what Martin began”, concluded Arno Mohl of WWF and Gabriel Schwaderer of EuroNatur.

    Photographs from the events are available on request from  or tel. +43 1 488 17-239

    Further information:
    Tanja Nikowitz, WWF Austria project officer, tel. +43 676 83 488 219, e-mail: 

    Konstantin Ivanov, Head of Regional Communications, WWF Central & Eastern Europe,
    mob. +359 884 514636, e-mail: 

    About WWF
    WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.  WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the earth’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world’s biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
  • 06
    WWF reveals Croatia’s Seven River Wonders to the public
    Lonjsko polje, Zagreb, June 19th, 2013 - In the eve of Croatia’s accession to the European Union, WWF prepares a “welcome present” to the public: The hidden treasure of Croatia’s stunning river landscapes for all to see. Today, a four-weeks-campaign highlighting the rivers’ unique and endangered habitats and species is being launched. Various activities like exhibitions, concerts, camps, lectures and workshops will take place on the Danube, Drava, Mura, Sava, Zrmanja, Neretva and Ombla – the “Seven river wonders of Croatia”. WWF and its partner NGOs like Green Osijek, the Croatian Society for Bird and Nature Protection, and the Drava League chose them as representatives of Croatia’s stunning river network.

    On a boat floating on the Sava and in cooperation with the Nature Park Lonjsko polje, WWF also launched a manifesto to Mr. Zmajlović, Croatian minister for environment and nature protection. “Croatia’s natural rivers are severely harmed by channelling, gravel and sand extraction and hydro dam projects – although such measures are contradicting EU law”, Arno Mohl, international freshwater expert of WWF said. “Since the rivers are being given as a gift to the European Union now, they should receive a strong protection status and should be included into the Natura 2000 network of the EU.” The manifesto launched today can soon be signed on 

    As a closing act of the river’s weeks, the first “Amazon of Europe day” will be celebrated at the confluence of the Mura and Drava rivers on July 14th. Being the birthday of sadly deceased Mr. Martin Schneider Jacoby of EuroNatur, “prime father” of the trans-boundary Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”, in the future such a celebration shall be held annually on that day.

    The current campaign is part of an international project by WWF and EuroNatur whose main objective is to establish protection and a sustainable management of the trans-boundary river system of the Danube, Drava and Mura. Although so far only the Croatian and Hungarian part was declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, WWF works for the declaration as reserve in all five countries.

    A list of all events is available on: see link 

    Claudia Mohl, WWF Press Officer, tel. +43 676 83 488 203, E-Mail: 

    Petra Boić Petrac, Regional Communications Officer WWF Mediterranean Programme,
    tel. +385 91 290 5976; E-Mail: 

    2013 06 19_Launch of campaign Seven River Wonders of Croatia_2

  • 06
    “Regeneration of the Danube” eco music festival Bački Monoštor
    NGO "Podunav" Bački Monostor is a non-profit organization whose main goals are the protection and improvement of the environment, development of rural and eco tourism, the preservation of tradition and encouraging youth activism to create educational and recreational activities for youth.

    Bački Monostor is located near the Danube and the Special Nature Reserve "Gornje Podunavlje". This river is the main factor that formed a way of life of people in the Danube region. River ecosystem is vital for the socio-economic welfare of the entire border region. In cooperation with the WWF Danube-Carpathian program, we are working hard to promote the Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Mura-Drava-Danube", starting with our NGO project “Our UNESCO biosphere reserve” in 2010, and after that, our organization is participating in the activities of TBR MDD promotion, through meetings, seminars and workshops, together with the partners from other countries. NGO Podunav is also included in River watch campaign – for our part of the Danube.

    In addition, we are proud that our association with its program and activities represented Serbia on the project proposals for European Landscape Award in 2011, and received the special recognition as a project of great value. In 2013, International Jury of the Council of Europe Landscape Award and the CDCPP decided to attribute identical Special Mentions of Council of Europe Landscape Award of the European Landscape Convention for the 3rd Session 2012-2013 to our project: The Gate of Gornje Podunavlje, as a Special mention for contributing to European ideals.

    Honoring the Danube, starting five years ago, on the International Danube Day, our association organizes eco-music festival called the “Regeneration of the Danube”. It represents the unity of educational and music programs related to Danube ecosystem promotion and awareness rising. It is designed for the children and young people from the region.

    The festival is held at the Eco-Center in Backi Monostor, which is located at the edge of the SNR "Gornje Podunavlje", representing a classroom in the open field, with the small wooden amphitheater, children playground, a great performing stage and a camp. Regeneration of the Danube is held for two days, gathering about 2000 young people and children.
    In past years, the program of the event consisted of the workshops with the children on the subject of SNR “Gronje Podunavlje” and Danube relevance, presentation of local and regional associations for environment protection, creative workshops with the young people – “Trash art”, photography and art exhibitions, presentations of the projects in the course, promotions of the youth festivals, educations on SRP "Gornje Podunavlje" and Transboundary biosphere  reserve “Mura – Drava – Danube”, with the participation of the representatives of "Vojvodina forests" – SNR GP manager, local NGOs and all the festival visitors.

    In the evening, starts the music part of the festival, with the performance of music bands, from Serbia and Croatia. A full-day program is followed by the media (TV, radio stations and journals).  

    In this year, the festival is scheduled for Thursday 27, Friday 28 and Saturday 29 of June. It would be organized promotion of TBR “Mura-Drava-Danube”, through the workshops with kids, exhibition of photos “Water labyrinth” and Round table with local stakeholders, coordinated by WWF DCP. Our partners from Croatia – CA “Slama” (“Straw”)  would held a educational and creative workshops, making great installation of the straw – The fortress of Bodrog. It would be symbolically burned during the festival, due to the legend of medieval City of Bodrog.
    Besides the usual program, there would be held a workshop with the kids, which includes making objects of the straw. For the participants of the festival, there would be also organized workshop for the local environmental NGO’s, as well for the guests – members of the international Danube regatta.

    JPEG-Image INVITATION to Celebration of Danube Day, June 29, in Serbia 

    Friday 28 June

    12 h workshop with the kids from Backi Monostor and Bezdan on TBR MDD and rivers surrounding us – WWF DCP and Institute for public health Sombor
    14 h artistic workshop / Association “Straw”
    16 h opening of the Exhibition “Water labyrinth” /  WWF DCP
    22 h Concerts: Sin Seekas (Ada), Zion Crew (B. Monostor), Ruski Lekari (Sombor)

    Thursday 27 to Friday 28 of June

    DUB YARD - Beach
    Powered by PIRATE PUNX SOUND SYSTEM (Zagreb)
    Sound System is a crew, a dubplate, big boxes and heavy base... Sound System is a vibe, between mc and selector, massive respect and pure love, between people and this beautiful river...

    Saturday 29 June

    12 h Exhibition of the kids drowings  - „My Danube“
    14 h art workshop with the making of straw statues
    17 h TBR MDD promotion and international round table / WWF DCP, local stakeholders, NGO s from Serbia, Croatia and Hungary
    22 h Concerts:  Foundation (Vrbas), Temple of the Smoke (Beograd), Bamwise (Zagreb),
    Coolmancollar & Tommy Natty Dread soundsystem (Sombor)