Workshop for elaboration of a Drava Visitor Guidance Plan for Croatia/Radionica za izradu Plana upravljanja posjetiteljima rijeke Drave u Hrvatskoj

Third and last workshop for elaboration of a Drava Visitor Guidance Plan

Križovec – Public Institution Međimurska priroda hosted a stakeholder workshop for elaboration of a Drava Visitor Guidance Plan for Croatia, the last in a series of three such workshops, in their Visitor center in Križovec. Representatives of four counties` nature protection institutions, NGOs and regional as well as local development agencies sat together with the organizing DRAVA LIFE project team to review the most recent results of the Visitor Guidance Plan and finalize its measures. Zonation of the Croatian Drava protected areas into ecologically sensitive and low touristic as well as highly touristic areas has been reviewed by representatives of each county for their own region with the aim to minimize negative effects on nature by tourism. A set of basic visitor guidance principles for potential visitor categories of the Croatian Drava area have been jointly defined with the aim to offer a basic set of rules for future tourism-oriented measures and touristic developments. The first snow did not hold back the participants from taking part in the short walk to the Mura guided by team members of the Međimurska priroda Public Institution.

Results of the workshop will be processed over the coming month and the completed Visitor Guidance Plan is aimed to be shared with all state and county agencies required to elaborate a regional development or visitor guidance plan.

Radionica predstavljanja projekta i planova obnove staništa/Drava LIFE workshop and presentation of habitat management plan

Workshop and presentation of habitat management plan in municipality of Cestica and city of Varaždin

Varaždin – Workshop which presented the DRAVA LIFE project and habitat management plan for the municipality of Cestica and city of Varaždin was held on Wednesday, 07th November 2018,  in the Great hall of Varaždin County. The aim of the workshop was to present the completed and upcoming project activities to the general public and to gather the open suggestions from residents and stakeholders of the municipality of Cestica and Varaždin.

More than 50 participants and representatives of local communities, NGO’s, civil initiatives, representatives of public and business sector attended the workshop organized by NGO Green Osijek and Public institution for management of protected natural values in Varaždin county. Deputy of Varaždin County Tomislav Paljak gave an opening speech at the beginning of the workshop and Jelena Pavlekovic from Public institution for management of protected natural values in Varaždin county thanked everyone for coming.

Project partners Jasmin Sadiković from NGO Green Osijek, Zdenko Kereša and Emil Flajšman representing Croatian Waters, Sanja Kopljar from Public institution for management of protected natural values in Varaždin county and Branka Španiček from WWF Adria presented their project activities, present results and upcoming goals within the Drava LIFE project. Particular emphasis was placed on the reconstruction of the habitat on the Drava River on locations C.1. Otok Virje and C.2. Varaždin, which was presented in detail by the lead partner and project manager Zdenko Kereša from Croatian Waters. Sociologist Dražen Šimleša presented the results of the conducted research gathered from the key stakeholders of the Drava LIFE project, which are largely positive and support the conservation work on the Drava river. The official program finished with a small catering and informal gathering.

Riječne ptice #ProtectRiverBirds/River Birds #ProtectRiverBirds

#ProtectRiverBirds campaign raised the awareness on the importance of protecting river birds and their habitats

Zagreb – NGO’s WWF Adria and BIOM have successfully completed the campaign called #ProtectRiverBirds, with the aim to raise public awareness on the importance of protecting river birds and their habitats to conserve the biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems. The campaign was carried out over a period of 3 weeks and conducted through social media channels from 18th September to 14th October 2018 and successfully ended in the European Week of Bird Watching, which is marked in the first week of October. WWF Adria and BIOM together with nearly 20 partners marked the campaign as a part of the “2018 – Year of the Tern”. #ProtectRiverBirds campaign was supported by more than 8,000 people, several organizations, civil initiatives and institutions such as Croatian Waters, Public Institution of Međimurje County, Nature Parks  Lonjsko Polje and Kopački Rit, NGO Zeus-Senjar, NGO Green Osijek, Croatian Society for Bird and Nature Protection , BED – Brodsko Ekološko Društvo, NGO LUMEN, Rafting Club Matis Varaždin, Art Center Ješkovo, Dravska priča and many others.

The main goal of the campaign was to educate the wider public about the importance of the birds in the Drava River basin and the protection of their endangered habitats. The habitats are mostly endangered due to human activities that have negative impacts on the number of birds living in the wider Drava River basin. Populations of those birds has been drastically decreasing over the past decades. This also affects the biodiversity of the entire river basin, which is extremely important due to protection of the ecosystems we rely on to withstand rising threats such as climate change. River regulation, drainage of wetlands, construction of hydropower plants are examples of direct negative threats for the freshwater ecosystem and the birds that live in these habitats. Nevertheless, despite the threats, there are still suitable places for nesting of the river birds on the Drava River. The protection of such habitats is highly important.

To raise awareness on the importance of the protection of river birds and their habitats many organizations and institutions, as well as numerous individuals (scientists, biologists, artists, nature lovers) have participated in the #ProtectRiverBirds campaign. Main initiators of the campaign, NGO’s WWF Adria and BIOM are actively working to protect river birds and their habitats throughout two parallel projects, WWF Adria within the project “DRAVA LIFE – Integrated River Management”, and BIOM within the project “Conserving populations of terns in the Sava and Drava basin “.

Međunarodni dan rijeke Drave/International Drava River Day

Drava LIFE project partners marked the International Drava River Day

Varaždin, Osijek – A multi-day celebration of the International Drava River Day started on 20th September 2018 with a panel discussion “Projects and Challenges of River Protection and Sustainable Development along the Drava River” which was organized by the Public institution for management of protected natural values in Osječko-baranjska County, the Regional Development Agency of Slavonia and Baranja, the Osječko-baranjska County, the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek, NGO Green Osijek, the city of Osijek, the Tourist board of Osječko-baranjska county and the Tourist board of the city of Osijek. Drava LIFE project together with several other EU projects along the Drava river was presented at the event. The participants also discussed the model for sustainable development and tourism along this river.

The celebration was accompanied by the art workshop for children, a photo exhibition “Living alongside Drava river” and a boat race that started from Vodenica. Students from “Franjo Kuhača” music school held a small concert at the amphitheater on the left bank of the Drava river and the overall program was completed with the music set of DJ Omer. The last day of the International Drava River Day celebration a tourist sightseeing on bicycles was organized and kayakers and rafters paddled downstream the Drava river.

The International Drava River Day was celebrated also in Varaždin on Sunday, September 23rd, 2018. The celebration was organized by the city of Varaždin, the University “Sjever”, the Varaždin City Museum and the Croatian Waters – the leading partner of the Drava LIFE project. In the Herzer Palace’s multimedia hall participants discussed the value of the Drava river as an irreplaceable source of potable and quality water and as an extremely important natural resource for the livelihood. Zdenko Kereša, project manager from Croatian Waters talked about the present and upcoming activities within the Drava LIFE – integrated river management project. The International Drava River Day was concluded by the opening of the photo exhibition “Tragovi Nanosa” by Zdenko Kereša.


Zeleni Osijek, prezentacija Drava LIFE projekta

Drava LIFE project – an example of best practice for students

Osijek, Croatia – During 14 and 15th of September, the 6th module of education entitled “Sustainable Community Development and Global Education” was held under the Civic Education and Training (“Osijek to GOO”) project. The objective of the module is to familiarize students with topics of sustainable development, environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources. All those activities are also implemented through the Drava LIFE project.

Ivan Damjanović from the Association for Nature and Environment Protection Green Osijek, one of the partners in the Drava LIFE project, presented the project as a good example of best practice and a representative case of international cooperation in environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources and coexistence of humans and nature.

Primary school teachers participating in the project received more detailed information on the topics of protection of river and river ecosystems, revitalization of river habitats and the need to protect rivers and endangered plant and animal species. The gained knowledge will be further shared by teachers to their pupils, and therefore they will transfer knowledge and examples of good practice to younger generations.







Educational summer camp "Our Drava"/Ljetni edukacijski kamp "Naša Drava"
Educational summer camp "Our Drava"/Ljetni edukacijski kamp "Naša Drava"

Educational summer camp „Our Drava“ as part of the 2018 – Year of the Tern

Varaždin – A seven days educational summer camp for students on benefits of the Drava River was organized by Association BIOM in Jalžabet near Varaždin from 24th till 30th June. 15 students from First Gymnasium Varaždin and few high schools from Ivanec participated at the „Our Drava“ educational camp. Students learned about the biodiversity of flora and fauna on the Drava River, species and habitats and their importance for the freshwater ecosystem. „Our Drava“ camp is the activity organized within the 2018 – Year of the Tern and within the Interreg Project „Conserving populations of terns in the Sava and Drava basin“ by BIOM.

During the camp students visited Ptuj lake in Slovenia, reservoirs of the hydropower plants Varaždin and Čakovec and the wider area of the Mura – Drava Regional Park where they were actively exploring the Drava River and learning about the plants and species of the area.

Educational summer camp “Our Drava”/Ljetni edukacijski kamp “Naša Drava”

In addition to other lecturers, Branka Španiček, from WWF Adria was also involved in the camp and held a lecture about the importance of river birds, especially little tern (Sternula hirundo) and sand martin (Riparia riparia). Migratory birds such as terns can be seen in smaller or larger flocks and they are mostly nesting on gravel islands and gravel bars in just few places in Croatia. They feed on fish, crabs, insects and molluscs.

Students also learned more about the EU project DRAVA LIFE and activities within the project such as the first reintroduction and repopulation of two pioneer riverine plants German tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and dwarf cattail (Typha minima). The plants have gone extinct in their natural habitat along the river in Croatia; and were planted on gravel bars along Drava river in an effort to re-introduce them into the river system.

Non-governmental organizations WWF Adria and BIOM proclaimed 2018 as Year of the Tern. The two NGO’s are undertaking separate project activities in parallel throughout the year to protect terns and raise awareness on the importance of preserving their habitats along the Drava River.

The actions of WWF Adria are co-funded by the European Union under the DRAVA LIFE project LIFE 14 NAT/HR/000115 DRAVA LIFE;BIOM`activities are co-funded within their Interreg Project „Conserving populations of terns in the Sava and Drava Basin“.

To find out more news on educational summer camp „Our Drava“ click here :

Dr. Dragica Purger a botanist and expert associate in the DRAVA LIFE project/botaničarka i stručna suradnica DRAVA LIFE projekta

Successful first phase of re-introduction and repopulation of riverine plants along the Drava

Legrad – The first process of reintroduction and repopulation of extinct riverine plants in Croatia was carried out on 3 sites along the Drava River in Koprivnica-Križevci County earlier this year. First monitoring of this action`s results had been planned for May this year but had to be postponed until end of June due to the high water levels that persisted a little longer than two months.

As a part of the re-introduction activity, german tamarisk was moved from the gravel pit near Varaždin and Prelog to the pre-selected locations, while dwarf cattail was transported from Austria, where its population along Drava river is in good condition due to the reintroduction that was carried out throughout several projects.

Patuljasti rogoz na lokaciji Forjanov siget/Dwarf cattail at location Forjanov siget

German tamarisk at location Libanovec/Kebrač na lokaciji Libanovec

German tamarisk at location Libanovec/Kebrač na lokaciji Libanovec












“Despite the unfavorable conditions and fear that high water levels will adversely affect plants, we are extremely happy that our first monitoring results showed that the first phase of repopulation and reintroduction was successful. Our expert associate, Dr. Dragica Purger has found separate seedlings on almost all sites where the activities were carried out. Unfortunately, not all plants have survived high water levels but we believe that the species that survived will continue to grow. The first year is crucial in such cases and we will closely monitor plants in the upcoming months. The ultimate success of reintroduction and repopulation can only be ascertained when seedlings are fully adapted to the new habitat conditions and are beginning to reproduce”, said Branka Španiček from WWF Adria.

Both the german tamarisk and dwarf cattail are indicators of healthy and natural rivers. German tamarisk was last recorded in 2013 at the gravel bars near Legrad, while dwarf cattail disappeared from this area more than 20 years ago, to be more precise, last time it was recorded on the gravel bars near Varaždin was in the year 1994.

Both plants are pioneer species that grow on new habitats such as sandbanks and river banks in freshwater ecosystems. They could be found on this kind of habitats along the Drava river in Croatia until the recent past but have become almost extinct from the area with the gradual decrease of such habitats and loss of river dynamics along with rapid and frequent changes in water levels due to hydropower operation. Factors that have contributed to the disappearance of these habitats are lack of sediment as well as decreases of natural river dynamics due to river regulation and hydropeaking.

Bad Mitterndorf, Austria
Bad Mitterndorf, Austria

DRAVA LIFE project presented at the LIFE Platform in Austria

Bad Mitterndorf, Austria – DRAVA LIFE project was presented at the 20th LIFE Platform Meeting organized by the Austrian Forestry and supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism. At the event, 11 on-going or finalized LIFE and IP LIFE projects from Austria and partially from Germany, or with an Austrian involvement, as in the case of DRAVA Life, have been presented.

Drava Life project presented at the Life Platform in Austria/DRAVA LIFE projekt predstavljen na LIFE konferenciji u Austriji

Drava Life project presented at the Life Platform in Austria/DRAVA LIFE projekt predstavljen na LIFE konferenciji u Austriji

The purpose of the conference, organized for the 20th time this year and attended by more than 40 participants from Austria, Germany and Croatia, is to provide a platform for information and knowledge exchange for experts and stakeholders involved in nature and biodiversity projects financed by the European LIFE Programme. The two-day event also saw EASME and NEEMO partners who presented the new proposed regulation for the LIFE Programme and closed with a field trip to the LIFE+ project “Auseerland”, in the restored upland moor.

Educational workshop on Drava river/Edukacijska radionica o dobrobitima rijeke Drave

Workshop for school children within DRAVA LIFE project

Legrad – First DRAVA LIFE project workshop for pupils from 5th and 6th grade of Legrad primary school was held on 30th May 2018 in the Sport Fishing center “Smuđ“ in Legrad, organized by project partner Green Osijek.

Ivan Damjanović  from NGO Green Osijek talked about the protection of rivers and Branka Španiček  from WWF Adria held a presentation about endangered species and habitats in the Drava River basin. Only few pairs of river birds such as Sand martin and Little tern are left on Drava river and those numbers are constantly declining. The Drava Life project aims to improve the habitats for these river birds through river revitalization and habitat protection measures. The children could also learn about the project activity for reintroduction and repopulation of the riverine plants German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail that took place earlier this year. German tamarisk and Dwarf cattail are two pioneer species that grow on sand- and gravel bars along rivers and could be found until not that long ago also along Mura and Drava in Croatia.

The main purpose of the workshop was educating pupils and other participants about the importance of river protection and preservation of endangered species. DRAVA LIFE project partners are also working on the development of Visitors guidance Plan and Action Plan for River Birds, organizing visits to restored habitats, implementation of educational programs for citizens and schools, organization of international study trips and visiting other LIFE projects for exchanging experience and examples of good practice.

The workshop participants were closely informed about DRAVA LIFE project activities and the exceptional biodiversity of the Amazon of Europe. After presentations, students got educational materials about the river Drava and more information on EU projects in this area. There was also a small quiz which tested their knowledge. The event was closed in a happy common snack shared by the participating children and the educators.


DRAVA LIFE project presented at LIFE Info Day in Zagreb

Zagreb – LIFE Info Day was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Energy on 7th of  May 2018 in order to inform about the ongoing LIFE projects in Croatia.

All participants and potential applicants were introduced to the new model of LIFE applications in 2018. The representatives of EU LIFE program shared their experience and presented thematic priorities and novelties of the new aplication form. Purpose of the EU LIFE program is to support projects with additional values that are bringing out innovative solutions to environmental and climate issues through sustainable co-financing.

LIFE Info day also included presentations of 11 different LIFE projects in Croatia. One of them was DRAVA LIFE with total value of 4.6 million euros funded with 60 percent from EU which makes it the biggest LIFE project currently conducted in Croatia. Leading partner in the project are Croatian Waters, other partners include Association for the Protection of Nature and Environment Green Osijek, WWF Austria and public institutions from Virovitičko-podravska county, Varaždinska county and Koprivničko-križevačka county.











The DRAVA LIFE project area covers a length of 310 km, and includes 4 Natura 2000 sites in an area of 67.800 hectares. Except for the part from Osijek to the confluence with the Danube (Kopački Rit Nature Park), the whole length of the Croatian Drava is included in the project.

LIFE Info Day was also attended by DRAVA LIFE project partners, Lidija Baras representing Croatian Waters, Branka Španiček and Denis Povijač from WWF Adria and Tatjana Arnold Sabo from Public institution for management of protected nature areas and ecological network of Virovitičko-podravska county.