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.