Field visit©B. Španiček

DRAVA LIFE project partners meet for the 39th time!

On 13th and 14th of December 2022 DRAVA LIFE partners met for the 39th time in Hrvatske vode department in Varaždin in a hybrid form. Project partners used the meeting to update each other on the current activities and discuss details of the upcoming restoration activities. Most progress has been made towards the implementation of the concrete restoration activities which should start during winter period of 2023!

On the second day, several project partners visited restoration locations C.3 Donja Dubrava – Legrad and C.4 Botovo Bridge to discuss details of the restoration activities in more detail and assess the impact of building of the new railway bridge across Drava River at Botovo on the dynamic of implementation of the sidearm restoration.

This was the last project partner meeting for 2022. Project partners wish you a cheerful happy holidays and healthy and happy New Year!


C.4 restoration site©B. Španiček

C.3 restoration site©B. Španiček

Constraction work at the Botovo bridge©B. Španiček

Javna ustanova za upravljanje zaštićenim dijelovima prirode Varaždinske županije
Reallocation action©Javna ustanova za upravljanje zaštićenim dijelovima prirode Varaždinske županije

German tamarisk successfully reallocated on the natural habitats on Drava River

Fifteen river enthusiasts from, High school Arboretum Opeka, Hrvatske vode, State Institute for Environment and Nature Protection for and State Inspectorate led by Public Institution for Management of Protected Natural Areas in Varaždin County have joined their efforts on Friday the 9th of December 2022 in an action of reallocation of 30 plants from the gravel pit Turnišće to the gravel bar on Drava River downstream of the Ormož lake.

From the cuttings made of two largest plants, employees of the Zagreb Botanical garden and students of the High school Arboretum Opeka will try to produce young rooted plants that can, at later stages, be reallocated on the natural habitats on Drava.

German tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) is pioneer species which grows on gravel banks of rivers and banks of watercourses of the Alps and their foothills. It is a plant adapted to the unique ecological conditions on its habitat which is restricted to the newly created gravel and sand bars of braided rivers. Therefore, these species are considered as indicator species of healthy and natural rivers. German tamarisk has vanished from the natural habitats of the Drava River due to river channelization, construction of hydropower plants, as well as by gravel and sand extraction. Therefore, gravel and sand bars as pioneer habitat types have become very rare in Europe and are one of the most endangered ecosystems. German tamarisk is strictly protected species in Croatia which makes it highly important to ensure the remaining population is secured and well monitored.

This is very valuable activity led by one of the DRAVA LIFE project partners, contributing to already implemented repopulation and reallocation activities of German tamarisk done in previous years.

We hope that the newly reallocated plants will thrive in the new, natural habitat and will spread on the habitats downstream in future years!

Key river bird species©T. Nikowitz

Bern Convention took note of the Action Plan for river birds in the five-country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”

On November 29th November 2022, the 42nd Standing Committee of the Bern Convention* took note of the Action Plan for river birds in the five-country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube” and invited the five countries to follow up on its implementation. This will help to strengthen the efforts and necessary actions in order to protect river birds on Mura, Drava and Danube.

The Action plan for river birds in the five-country Biosphere Reserve „Mura-Drava-Danube“ was accomplished in the DRAVA LIFE Project. It was developed by WWF Austria and the planning

office REVITAL, and first published in April 2019. It was first published in April 2019. It has been coordinated with ornithologists and various stakeholders across the five countries in several workshops. Data and expert knowledge was provided by several ornithologists across the five countries. All contributors are listed in the action plan.

Four gravel (Common Tern, Little Tern, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover) and three sand bank breeders (Sand Martin, Kingfisher and European Bee-eater) have been tackled.

The seven river bird species are endangered throughout Europe. Breeding birds that depend on habitats of highly dynamic riverine ecosystems are endangered mainly due to habitat loss.

The „Mura-Drava-Danube“ river system is one of the ecologically most important in Europe. Still, it suffered from habitat loss within the last 100 years due to hydropower dams, navigation improvements and flood protection. This led to the loss of 70% of gravel and sand bars. For example only 2-3 colonies of Little and Common Terns are left. Also 50% of natural river banks are lost. Hence about 30.000 Sand Martin pairs in the 1980s dropped to 7.000 in the last decade.

Long-term preservation of those river birds depends on future management of the transboundary riverine ecosystem. A comprehensive action plan on a transboundary level is urgently needed.

The aim of the action plan is to foster comprehensive and harmonised conservation actions for the seven defined key river bird species across the Biosphere Reserve.

It is the first species conservation plan developed on a transboundary level within the Biosphere Reserve and aims to support the implementation of conservation actions for river birds as well as the implementation of the Biosphere Reserve and the Natura 2000 management plans in the area. Furthermore, it aims to facilitate the restoration and ecological management of the three rivers and a „river development plan“. Objectives for every threat to the river birds have been defined. Based on this, 43 actions are needed for conservation of these bird species.

*Bern Convention:

The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, covering most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extending to some States of Africa.