The first world reserve of the 5 nations stretches for 435 miles in Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia: “Amazon of Europe”

Peter Valic, CC license

The “European Amazon”, a victory for nature for 12 years, has finally become a UNESCO cross-border biosphere reserve covering five nations.

Protecting the valuable and vulnerable river and estuarine ecosystems of the Danube, Mura and Drava rivers, the reserve spans Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia.

Similar to its famous ‘World Heritage Sites’, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves represent a high level of international protection and recognition for the world’s best ecosystems, and those essential to the maintenance of the biosphere – the Global Network of life.

The Mura-Drava-Danube cross-border reserve (MDD) covers 300,000 hectares of wilderness and 700,000 hectares of transition zones and buffer zones. T

Buffer zones contain relatively pristine and related microsystems such as wetlands, fish ponds and dead lakes, while transition zones retain modest human habitation such as villages, ecotourism businesses, and agriculture.

“It is the most valuable connected river landscape in Central Europe and need not be afraid of being compared to the Amazon,” said WWF project coordinator Arno Mohl, who advocated for MDD for over a decade.

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The seed of the project was sown in 2009 when Croatia and Hungary signed a joint declaration expressing their common desire to see such a reserve see the light of day, followed two years later by Serbia, Slovenia and Austria.

In 2011, UNESCO began to review the borders and habitat in each country before designating a biosphere in each, always with the idea of ​​combining them.

Even on a continent as populated as Europe, the reserve is a sign that nature can maintain strongholds around us, and the MDD is the first biosphere reserve to cross the borders of so many nations.

“The five countries involved prove that nature conservation can transcend national borders for the benefit of all. In the context of the current climate crisis and the mass extinction of species, the protection of the last natural areas has become a matter of survival, ”continued Mohl.

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Representing such an important body of water, it is perhaps not surprising that it is a refuge for endangered species like the black stork, otter, beavers, little tern, sturgeon and the strongest. density of European white eagles, as well as 36 native Slovenian fish species on the IUCN Red List.

In Slovenia, the Mura River is the only body of water not separated by dams, which means that fish can migrate from its sources to the Danube Delta where it empties into the Black Sea.

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