Klaus Michor iz REVITALa kod ulaza u rukavac
Klaus Michor iz REVITALa kod ulaza u rukavac na lokaciji C.7/Klaus Michor from REVITAL office near the entrance in the sidearm on location C.7

Field visit of locations C.6 and C.7

Noskovacka Dubrava, Croatia – In order to develop detailed plans for the restoration of the locations C.6 Miholjački Martinci and C.7. Podravska Moslavina, DRAVA LIFE partners together with representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Energetics of Republic of Croatia and planners visited two above mentioned river restoration locations in Virovitica-Podravina and Osijek-Baranja County on 28th of November 2017.

During the visit, participants discussed about the best options for the restoration of two side arms. Since the water level of Drava at this point was high enough, participants were also able to see the situation at first hand throughout the w hole side arm system at both locations.

Kopački rit
Drava LIFE project partners, ornithologists and other nature conservation experts, regional development and tourism sector in Nature Park Kopački rit./Projektni partneri Drava LIFE projekta, ornitolozi i ostali stručnjaci iz sektora zaštite prirode, regionalnog razvoja i sektora turizma u Parku prirode Kopački rit.

Drava LIFE workshops and excursion in Nature Park Kopački Rit

Kopački Rit, Croatia – Within the Drava LIFE project WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) organized three days of workshops from November 6-8 with an excursion into the Nature park Kopački Rit. Experts from the nature conservation and tourism sector, the Departments of nature protection of the Public Institutions of the counties along Drava, the Croatian Agency for Environment and Nature (protected area authorities, international experts of an Austrian integrative landscape planning office (REVITAL), ornithologists from Austria and Croatia as well as NGO representatives and Drava LIFE project partners attended the workshops.

The first workshop on  the „Natura 2000 Drava Management Strategy“ was held on Monday and the participants discussed about the objectives and strategies on topics related to flood protection, agriculture, forestry and woods, protection of Natura 2000 sites, tourism, monitoring and education of visitors.

On the second day, participants discussed about a „Nature Visitor Guidance Plan for Drava“. The goal ist to develop an overall concept for the nature-friendly use of the Natura 2000 sites at the Drava in Croatia with regard to sustainable tourism and recreation. Renata Forjan, Head of Department for Visitors’ Management guided all the participants to boat cruising along the channels of Kopački Rit, showed them the interactive information center and had a presentation about visitor guidance and green tourism in Kopački Rit. Jasmin Sadiković, coordinator of Drava LIFE project and CEO of Green Osijek had a presentation afterwards about the Eco centre Zlatna Greda and grassroot initiatives in nature conservation.

On the last day the participants discussed about an „Action plan for river birds“ within the planned cross-border UNESCO biosphere reserve „Mura-Drava-Danube“ stretching across five countries. Objectives and actions for the protection of gravel and steep bank breeders like little tern, bee-eater or sand martin along Drava have been defined. After the workshop, the local ornithologist Tibor Mikuška led all the participants to birdwatching areas along the dams of Kopački Rit where they observed flocks of migrating geylag geese and other waterfowl species.

Kopački Rit represents one of the most significant tourist destinations in the continental part of Croatia with all its beauty and ecological value. For more pictures visit our photo gallery.

The results of the workshops will be proceeded and the draft will be finalized in the upcoming months within the working groups. Two additional workshops will be held for Visitors Guidance Plan.

Terenski obilazak rijeke Drave
Field trip on Drava river/Terenski obilazak rijeke Drave

Drava Life workshop on reintroduction of German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail on Drava river

Legrad, Croatia – Within the DRAVA LIFE project, the reintroduction of two riverine plants, German tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and Dwarf cattail (Typha minima) is planned on several locations along the Drava river in Croatia. A two-day workshop was held in Legrad on 26 and 27 September 2017 and was attended by experts from Croatia, Hungary and Austria. The group learned about good examples of successful reintroduction and how to implement this activity as good as possible. On the second day, a study visit to potentially acceptable locations on Drava river where German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail can be reintroduced, was organized.

Drava Life workshop on reintroduction of German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail on Drava river

„German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail are two pioneer plants that grow on dynamic river habitats such as gravel bars and are indicators of healthy and natural rivers. In the past those two species were inhabited along the Drava river in Croatia, but today, due to the over-exploitation of the river and its regulation they almost disappeared,“ said Branka Španiček from WWF Adria.

Drava Life studijsko putovanje
Drava Life study visit/Drava Life studijsko putovanje

Drava Life steering commitee meeting and study visit to LIFE project in Slovenia

Varaždin, Croatia – The two-day meeting of working groups and steering commitee of the LIFE Drava project in Croatia took place on September 12nd and 13th at the meeting venue of Hrvatske vode in Varaždin. The lead partner of the project Hrvatske vode VGO Varaždin, Drava Life coordinators Association for Nature Protection and Environment Zeleni Osijek, representatives of Revital and WWF Austria and representatives of WWF Adria all attended the meeting and discussed examples of good practice in river restoration and presented the preliminary drafts for restoration of all seven planned locations and their conceptual solutions.

On the second day of the meeting, a study trip to the neighboring LIFE project in Slovenia was organized.  DOPPS representatives and Damijan Denac, director of DOPPS and LIVE Drava project in Slovenia welcomed the DRAVA LIFE partners from Croatia. The field group visited the river side branches at the locations of Mali vasi and Markovci near Ptuj where river revitalization works were already done. This visit carried forward the positive practice and mutual cooperation between representatives of similar EU projects.

Two neighbouring Life projects on Drava/Dva susjedna LIFE projekta na Dravi

Representatives of the DRAVA LIFE project attended the opening of the Ormož Basins Nature Reserve in Slovenia

Ormož, Slovenia – LIVE DRAVA Project – The restoration of the ecosystem of the lower part of the Drava River started in Slovenia in 2012 under the leadership of DOPPS and partners from the water management, energy sector and local municipalities. In the area of ​​the basins and waste water treatment plant of the former sugar factory in Ormož, successful restoration was carried out through the project funded by European funds for nature protection of the LIFE + program.

Restoration through the manageable irrigation system from Ormož Lake on the Drava River creates new habitats for birds (e.g. nesting islands and free water surface) within the lagoons. The habitat management system includes water level regulation in the basins and grazing of 14 water buffalos that will prevent excessive growth of vegetation in the lagoons. A service facility as well as four bird watching towers were built. Also,  old containers with a functional model for blind and partially sighted people was refurbished. A former processing plant for waste water has been transformed into a management center  of the Reserve with an educational garden displaying nature conservation tips for every home.

The nature conservation of this area is dedicated to the protection of endangered wetland birds, which will have appropriate nesting habitats here. The area of Ormož Basins has a great national and international importance due to the appearance of a large number of bird species in the nesting and migration period. In the wider area of ​​Ormož Basins, ornithologists have recorded 266 bird species by the end of 2016, which is 69% of all identified bird species in Slovenia says Dr. Damjan Denac, Director of DOPPS and LIVE DRAVA project manager.

Five representatives of the DRAVA LIFE project from Hrvatske vode VGO Varaždin and Green Osijek attended the official opening of the Ormož Basins Nature Reserve in Slovenia near the Drava River. All the present partners from LIVE DRAVA project thanked the colleagues of the neighbouring Croatian Life project on Drava River for participating.

LIVE Drava

Tanja Nikowitz iz WWF Austrije / Tanja Nikowitz from WWF Austria

DRAVA LIFE project partners learned about good examples of reintroduction of German tamarisk on European rivers

Füssen, Germany – WWF members of the DRAVA LIFE project team participated on a two-day workshop on reintroduction of German Tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) in Füssen, Germany (4-5.07.2017). On the workshop led by the German and Austrian reintroduction experts they learned about most important conditions necessary for the successful reintroduction of the German tamarisk, the genetic diversity of the plant and its importance. Also, the workshop gave insight into practical experience in implementation and communication of activities related to the reintroduction of German tamarisk from various projects in the province of Salzburg in Austria and the Lower Bavaria region in Germany. On the first day of the workshop, a study visit was organized to the locations of successful reintroduction of the German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail (Typha minima) on the rivers Lech in Austria (Tyrol) and Halblech in Germany (Bavaria).

“German tamarisk, once widespread plant species, both on the Alpine rivers of Europe and in the lowland part of the river Drava in Croatia, has almost disappeared from our areas due to human impacts on the river ecosystem and hence loss of dynamic river banks. Within the DRAVA LIFE project we will try to reintroduce this sensitive riverine plant on several locations along the Drava River in Croatia,” said Branka Španiček from WWF Adria.



Little tern publication

Educational boards on Little tern – Ambassador of the Living Drava – set up along the Drava River

Legrad, Croatia – Natural habitats such as gravel and sand bars, which we can find only on the free-flowing parts of the Drava River, are home to some very interesting, but extremely rare species of birds- the Little tern. These habitats, and thus the species that depend on them, are jeopardized by the construction of hydropower plants, river regulation and gravel and sand extraction. One of the main goals of the DRAVA LIFE project is to improve the dynamics of the river through the restoration works, in order to create new habitats of gravel and sand bars.

There are only a few European rivers suitable for Little tern habitats – Loire in France, Vistula in Poland, Po in Italy and Sava and Drava in Croatia. According to last year’s data there are only 4 breeding pairs of Little tern left on Drava. In addition to the infrastructure, their survival is also threatened by the human disturbance as they step on the gravel and sand bars during breeding season, from mid-April until the end of July. To prevent disturbance of birds during the nesting season, partners in the DRAVA LIFE project have set up information boards at six locations along the Drava River.

“This bird, similar to seagulls, is perfectly adapted to life on rivers and fish hunting. It is characteristic of its yellow toe and legs. They build nests on gravel and the eggs look identical to the stones and are extremely difficult to spot. In order to inform the locals, as well as tourists, kayakers and all the others who like to spend their free time on the Drava, we have placed info boards on six locations next to the river, where they can find the most important information about Little tern, its importance , protection and threats. But most importantly, please do not disturb with the birds and do not walk in the gravel bars during nesting and raising of their young,” said Branka Španiček of WWF Adria.

This is just one of a series of DRAVA LIFE activities aimed at restoring the Drava River ecosystem and the habitats of its inhabitants. The importance of protection of the Little tern was also recognized by fishermen and kayakers, and they supported the implementation of this activity by informing their members.

“For the conservation of the last nesting places of the Little tern, it is necessary to renew the dynamics of the river and allow the river Drava to create new gravel and sand bars. This is precisely the main objective of the DRAVA LIFE project,” concluded Španiček.

The partners have also prepared a small brochure, where you can find out more information about this amazing bird species. The publication is available here.

U Eko centru Zlatna Greda svečano obilježili 25 godina EU LIFE programa, Direktive o staništima i mreže Natura 2000

Thanks to the LIFE program and Natura 2000, EU is the world leader in nature protection

Osijek, Croatia – 25 years of the EU LIFE Program, the Habitat Directive and the Natura 2000 Network have been celebrated in the Eco centre Zlatna Greda near Osijek. Croatia has been participating in the LIFE program since 1995 and the DRAVA LIFE project for the restoration of the Drava river, in the framework of which the event was organized, is one of the largest LIFE projects in Croatia so far.

The LIFE Program and the Habitats Directive were adopted on 21 May 1992. Since then they have successfully contributed to the preservation of our unique European natural heritage. The Habitats Directive is responsible for creating the largest network of protected areas in the world – Natura 2000 – and together with the Birds Directive and the LIFE Program, is one of the biggest European achievements for the protection of nature, the environment and the fight against climate change. In order to mark this important date for European nature, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee of Regions announced May 21st as “European Day of Natura 2000”.

The official LIFE celebration in Zlatna Greda was visited by more than 200 citizens and attended by representatives of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Hrvatske vode, Osijek-Baranja County Tourism Board, Osijek-Baranja County and partners in DRAVA LIFE project.

“The LIFE program and the projects it finances are extremely important for the preservation and improvement of our nature, which is under many pressures. Our DRAVA LIFE project is the first river restoration project in Croatia and as such represents a significant step forward in managing our rivers in a sustainable way. For the first time, there is a concrete cross-sectoral cooperation between Hrvatske vode, engineers and experts and non-governmental organizations, and we are sure it will become a good example for the future,” said Jasmin Sadiković, coordinator of DRAVA LIFE project from Green Osijek.

The Association of Green Osijek and WWF Adria also organized fun ecological and educational workshops for children to get acquainted with LIFE projects and the protection of rivers, forests and animal and plant species. Workshops were attended by more than 50 children.

“Through educational workshops we wanted to raise awareness of children about the rivers, forests and various animals that live in these ecosystems and show them why they are important to people’s lives. Children could learn more about the Sand martin and Little tern, the ambassadors of healthy river Drava and the indicators of natural and preserved rivers, and learned how they can help in their preservation. In order to raise awareness of other citizens about these species and their preservation, as part of the DRAVA LIFE project in Koprivnica-Križevci County, we will set up seven information boards along the Drava, which will inform all visitors of the importance of these and other Drava river birds,” said Branka Španiček from WWF Adria.

Predstavljanje DRAVA LIFE projekta u Ljubljani

DRAVA LIFE presented at the international LIFE conference in Slovenia

Ljubljana – The DRAVA LIFE project was presented at the LIFE Networking Conference “The Environment needs LIFE for the next 25 years”, organized by the Slovenian Ministry of Environment and Space in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

EU supports the preservation of unique and precious natural heritage for 25 years. In order to celebrate this jubilee, the European Commission, together with the European Parliament, the Council and the Committee of the Regions, declared May 21 as a European Day of Natura 2000.

The purpose of the conference, attended by more than 100 participants from all over Europe, was marking the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Habitats Directive and 25 years of the LIFE program. The conference provided an opportunity for international networking, exchange of experience and practical advice for all those interested in the LIFE program. A digital platform for partnerships in the implementation of projects co-financed by the LIFE program was also presented. Most of the time was devoted to presenting good practices and LIFE projects and addressing environmental issues at national and EU level.

Tokom obnove rijeke Drave reintroduciran je kebrač, indikator dinamičnih rijeka / During restoration of the river Drava the reintroduction of the German Tamarisk was done, which is the indicator of dynamic rivers

Thanks to the EU’s LIFE program, life has returned to Austrian rivers

Visits to LIFE river restoration projects in Austria

Representatives of WWF, Hrvatske vode, Croatian Ministry for Environmental Protection and Energy, Green Osijek and Public institutions for nature protection in Virovitica and Koprivnica-Križevci County visited the river restoration projects in the Upper Drava and Upper Mura in Austria, and river Tagliamento in Italy, famous for its spectacular gravel bars that are stretching for miles.

Austria is well-known for its decade-long investment in the restoration of its rivers that has been continuous to improve their environmental condition, which was damaged by the outdated river management practices and intensive channeling. After the last year’s visit to the Danube, partners in the DRAVA LIFE project visited LIFE restoration projects on Upper Drava and Upper Mura river, which significantly improved river dynamics and reintroduced plant species such as German Tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and  and Dwarf Cattail (Typha minima), which are indicators of dynamic and natural rivers. By creating new habitats, conditions for the return of many animal species that have already disappeared from this area have been improved. At the same time, they have created a better passive defense against floods, as well as new areas for recreation and fishing.

“We went to two locations of EU LIFE projects on Drava and Mura. With the restoration of old sidearms, oxbows and gravel islands, they were able to re-connect the mainstream of Drava and Mura with their tributaries and floodplains. This has largely remedied the damage caused by the many years of channeling of the river, restored the biodiversity of the area as well as its touristic value,” said Branka Španiček from WWF Adria.

The first day partners also visited the Tagliamento River, which runs in the Italian Dolomites and is world famous for its gravel bars, stretching for miles along the river. Because of its extremely dynamic hydromorphology, Tagliamento River is extremely important for the transport of gravel and sand to the Adriatic Sea, on which coastal tourist areas are depending.

“The exchange of experience between LIFE projects is an integral part of the LIFE project activities. Apart from the fact that many experts are involved, there are also examples of good practice. This visit to river restoration projects in Austria will greatly assist the quality implementation of the restoration of the Drava river ecosystem, “concluded Jasmin Sadiković, project coordinator of DRAVA LIFE from Green Osijek.

River ecosystems are among the most endangered ecosystems in Europe and the Drava River is no exception. As many as 22 hydropower plants in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia intersect Drava and left only a short section of free flowing river in Croatia. The aim of the five-year project DRAVA LIFE – integrated river management is to restore the river characteristics and degraded ecosystems to achieve the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive and Natura 2000. During the project partners will renovate and create 1,000 meters of dynamic river banks, 13 hectares of new dynamic river zones with gravel, sand and clay banks, 14.5 kilometers of sidearms and improve 300 hectares of floodplain forests.