Naslovnica knjige Gorana ŠafarekaBranka Španiček
20221024_123825

New book about the Drava River

From the creative pen of author and photographer Goran Šafarek, the new book about the Drava River – Drava jučer, danas, sutra (The Drava River – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow) – summarizes most relevant information about the river and illustrates them with beautiful pictures. It provides valuable knowledge about the physical characteristics of the river, social and cultural importance, species and habitats, threats and details on the future of the riverine landscape in the light of restoration efforts that are currently being undertaken on the Drava River.

Knjiga obiluje prekrasnim prikazima Drave

There are many beautiful pictures of the Drava River in the book

 

Being produced within the DRAVA LIFE project, the book will be shared with stakeholders on events that will be held in the following years and will be available in selected libraries along the Drava River.

 

Naslovnica knjige Gorana Šafareka

Drava – jučer, danas, sutra

 

Knjiga je objavljena unutar projekta DravaLife

The book was published within the DRAVA LIFE project

DRAVA LIFE project teamBirgit Egger
DRAVA LIFE project team

Excursion to Allier and Loire Rivers in France

Finally, after 2 years of the pandemic, in July of 2022, the DRAVA LIFE team could visit one of the wildest and most impressive rivers in Western Europe: river Allier, a tributary to river Loire, in France. Thanks to an early initiative of restoration actions starting in the 1980ies, including dam prevention and removal plus land purchase, river Allier has a model reference character for similar rivers in Europe due to its natural condition. River Allier nowadays is largely protected as Natura 2000 sites and partly as “Réserve Naturelle Val d Állier”. The river is 421 kilometres long. It has its source in the Cevennes mountains 50 kilometres east of Mende and flows 5 km west of Nevers into the Loire river.

View on Allier from the steep bank in Chemilly

View on Allier from the steep bank in Chemilly (c) WWF

14 persons of the DRAVALIFE team plus four other interested colleagues went on this trip from Austria and Croatia to Le Veurdre in France. A majority of the group went by night-train and connecting trains from Vienna and Zagreb via Zurich until Le Veurdre in France. The small, charming village is based just on the shore of river Allier. It was the perfect place to stay for our river expeditions.

The DRAVALIFE team went all this way to France in order to see and learn from river Allier. The excursion consisted of several stages. Dr. Gregory Egger, ecologist and professor for landscape ecology at the Karlsruher Institute for Technology (KIT), introduced the team to the special situation on river Allier. During an excursion to Allier and its floodplains close to Chemilly we learned about the natural development of different floodplain habitats. In several scientific studies over the past years the succession processes of the vegetation and the long-term riverine development have been documented. Especially the development of the black-poplar (Populus nigra) floodplains, the xerothermic grasslands as well as the invasive neophytes Fallopia japonica were highlighted during the excursion.

Excursion in Chemilly_Explanations of Gregory Egger(c)Birgit Egger

Excursion in Chemilly_Explanations of Gregory Egger (c) Birgit Egger

Furthermore the history of “Le Grand Plan – Plan Loire Grande Nature” (The Big Nature Plan for the Loire catchment) which enabled the development of the “Espace de Liberté”, a concept that gives space to the river through land purchase and law regulation, was introduced by Gregory Egger. The historical happenings that made this major plan possible was presented by Mr. Roberto Epple, President “European rivers network” ERN and part of the “river freedom fighters” at this time. In the 1980ies the river development (hence flood protection, irrigation, etc.)  was planned on the Loire river catchment. Against this “the Comité Loire Vivante” was formed which resulted in the concept of “Espace de Liberté” instead of further ”river development”. Later on the NGO “Allier sauvage” has been founded in order to protect river Allier which was presented to the team by its president Mr. Joel Herbach. Today even the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is again migrating up Loire and Allier.

Roberto Epple and Joel Herbach presenting (c) WWF

The second stage of the excursion was a canoe excursion supported by a canoe rental company (Canoë en Terre d’Allier, Base du Veurdre) on river Allier which started from Moulins to the medieval village of Apremont-sur-Allier. Canoeing and swimming down 55 kilometres of the river gave the best impression of the intact riverine ecosystem: natural steep banks, vast gravel and sand islands, a rich diversity of waterfowls, bordering meadows with cows drinking from the river, and a lot of space for the river. Sometimes, the team could not believe that such a riverine paradise over such a long stretch is still possible in the middle of Europe.

Canoeing

Canoeing (c) WWF

On the last day the confluence of Allier and Loire river close to Bec d´Allier was visited before heading to Paris to catch the night trains back home. Definitely, the concept of river restoration through land purchase and strict regulations for riverine space plus dam prevention and removal is a lesson learned that the DRAVALIFE team took home to river Drava and our restoration efforts.

Sand martin colony in a steep bank

Sand martin colony in a steep bank (c) WWF

 

Cattle herd drinking at the river

Cattle herd drinking at the river (c) WWF

 

Relaxing after canoeing

Relaxing after canoeing (c) WWF

Visiting restauration site in ObergottesfeldREVITAL
Visiting restauration site in Obergottesfeld

Useful workshop on river restoration in Nußdorf-Debant

This May the DRAVALIFE project team took part in a river restoration workshop in Nußdorf-Debant, Austria. The course was organized by the Integrative planning office REVITAL  and WWF Austria.

The participants from water management, nature conservation and NGOs learned about river restoration measures to improve sediment balance of rivers according to the newly published river restoration toolbox.

Besides the two days of indoor course and discussion, an excursion to best practice examples of river restoration measures was undertaken. The team visited fresh and old restoration sites at the rivers Schwarzach, Isel and Drava, and were able to learn about measures as well as about long-time development of river restoration.

Rijeka Schwarzach u blizini Gîrtschacha

The Schwarzach River close to Gîrtschach

The team was guided by an expert team of REVITAL (Klaus Michor and Stephan Senfter), by Herbert Mandler from the Carinthian water management and by Gregory Egger from “naturraumplanung egger”. A special highlight was the visit of the “water house” of the national park Hohe Tauern in St. Jakob in Defereggen (https://www.hausdeswassers.at/), where the team was fascinated by simple water experiments, outdoor education and a vivid presentation done by biologist Brigitte Eckle. This was of special interest for the new water school close Legrad in Croatia, that was established in the DRAVALIFE project by Croatian Waters.

Restauracija rijeke Drave kod Obergottesfelda

Restauration of The Drava River near Obergottesfeld

The “lessons learned” will be transferred to our river restoration measures on Drava within the DRAVALIFE project.

Gravel island on Lake Šoderica

Preparations for the nesting season: All is ready to welcome common terns on Lake Šoderic

On World Water Day 2022, we organized vegetation clearing action on a gravel island on Šoderica Lake near Koprivnica to prepare it for the common tern nesting season. Last year, the island was home to 70 bird pairs. This year we are hoping for a few more.

Fifteen people joined the action, including experts from the Institute for Ornithology in Zagreb, Public Institution for Management of Protected Natural Areas in Koprivnica-Križevci County, Administrative Department for Spatial Planning, Construction, Environment and Nature Protection of Koprivnica-Križevci County, Association of Sport Fishing Clubs Koprivnica, IGMA Ltd., WWF Austria, and WWF Adria. In addition, we were joined by journalists from Nova TV and a cinematographer from Filmofil, who recorded the whole event.

The main goal of the action was the removal of all woody vegetation and tall grass to ensure good nesting conditions for common terns. They usually nest on gravel islands in rivers, for instance on the Drava River, but human activity is causing the disappearance of those habitats, which make islands like the one we visited for World Water Day important for the preservation of the common tern population in Croatia.

 

In the following years, we will repeat the action if there will be a need. Until then, we are monitoring common terns on the island and will provide updates on our social media channels.