UNESCO on Wednesday declared a multi-state Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve stretching across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, making the "European Amazon" the largest protected river area in Europe, the WWF said. At a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, UNESCO declared the area of the Mura, Drava and Danube the world's first five-state biosphere reserve. It stretches over almost a million hectares and 700 kilometers of river flow. With the proclamation, this biosphere reserve has officially become the largest protected river area in Europe and is an international example of the synergy of nature protection, climate resilience and sustainable development. Due to its unique habitats and numerous rare species, the biosphere reserve is also known as the "European Amazon", points out the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which has been part of the initiative for this declaration from the beginning.
The area of the biosphere reserve abounds in rare habitats such as large floodplain forests, sand and gravel banks, steep banks, backwaters and backwaters. They are home to the largest population of bald eagles in Europe and the nesting ground of many endangered bird species such as bream, terns and black storks, beaver and otter habitats, and fish such as sturgeon.
Not only do many species depend on the Mura, Drava and Danube, but also almost a million people whose lives have been shaped by rivers. Untouched floodplains protect settlements from floods, rivers provide drinking water, fertile soil, mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, and are also zones of recreation and inspiration and can be a driver of sustainable development.