Croatia and Hungary agree on river reserve

An area of approximately 630,000 hectares along the Mura, Drava and Danube Rivers has been declared a Trans-Boundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by the governments of Croatia and Hungary.

It will be Europe’s largest protected river area and will safeguard floodplain forest, river islands, gravel banks and oxbows that provide rare habitat for biologically diverse plants and animals. It is home to a number of threatened species such as the Little tern, the Black stork, otters and sturgeons, as well as an important stop-off for more than 250,000 waterfowl every year. The region serves as a source of drinking water, agricultural productivity, fisheries and flood protection for human communities. The bilateral agreement is the germ of an even larger protected area projected to include territory in Austria, Slovenia and Serbia in the future. Politically it is a potent symbol of Croatia’s plan to join the European Union.