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.

Naslovnica knjige Gorana ŠafarekaBranka Španiček

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

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 (, 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.

WWF Adria
German tamarisk

Conservation of German tamarisk

At the end of April, we sent several plants of German tamarisks to the Botanical Garden in Klagenfurt so they could further develop. We hope we will be able to plant them one day in the natural habitats on the Drava River in Croatia, together with new plants.

Botanical Garden, Klagenfurt

Also, to determine the actual origin of German tamarisks that can be found near the Drava River, with the help of our colleague Dragica Purger, we extracted genetic material of German tamarisk from the gravel pit and drainage channel near HPP Dubrava. We can’t wait for the results and to finally have scientific evidence about the origin of the plants.


Drava - Donja Dubrava - Legrad
C3_Donja Dubrava-Legrad (2)

Progress of the DRAVA LIFE project

On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, the 4th Session of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee, of the DRAVA LIFE project, was held via videoconference. The Session was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.

Apart from the advisory expert committee formed for project environmental and nature evaluation, the Session was attended also by the project holder (Hrvatske vode), the authorized Designers for the preparation of Study documentation in the EIA procedure, and some of the project partners (Zeleni Osijek, WWF Adria).

It was concluded at the Session that the repeated public hearing was successfully conducted, that the quorum of the members of the advisory expert committee was achieved, and that all preconditions for making the final Opinion of the Committee and ending the EIA procedure were met.

According to the agreed suggestions, corrections, and remarks of the advisory expert committee, the authorized Designers for project Study documentation, and the project holder, the final opinion was that the intended intervention, DRAVA LIFE – integrated river management, is acceptable for the environment and ecological network. Opinion proposes environmental protection measures, mitigation measures on the conservation objectives and integrity of the ecological network area, and the environmental monitoring program. A period of three days has been given to the authorized Designers and other absent Commission members to comment on the Opinion, after which it will become formal.

This is encouraging and reassuring news for our project, which allows us to continue with the planned “in situ” project activities at the revitalization locations, thus taking a step closer to the realization of the project.


DRAVA LIFE info-points set up in Varaždin County

Within the project DRAVA LIFE, six info-points in five local government units have been set up in the following locations: municipality Cestica (Veliki Lovrečan), municipality Sračinec (Svibovec Podravski), Varaždin city (location along the Drava park-forest), municipality Trnovec Bartolovečki (Zamlaka settlement) and municipality Sveti Đurđ (Hrženica and Struga).

Placed near the existing/planned cycling trail „Mura-Drava Bike“, info-points are designed as resting points (covered seating area) with informational and educational content intended for local inhabitants, visitors and cyclists. The roof of the info-points refers to the local micro-architecture along the Drava river and at the same time defines the place of rest and presentation of the informative and educational content. Also, the height of the roof cornice enables a framed view from the bench to the surrounding area.

Text, photographs and maps on the info-points present natural assets and protection of the area along the river Drava, the importance of conservation of the river habitats, as well as plant and animal species that are important for that area. Furthermore, visitors are provided with instructions on how they can influence river conservation, along with basic information about the DRAVA LIFE project.

Every info-point is thematic and contains an additional set of information depending on the specific habitats/species that can be found in the immediate vicinity (for example, the first info-point next to the fishing lodge additionally presents the fish fauna, the second one presents gravel bars located in the immediate vicinity). We believe that info-points will become a favourite gathering place of the local population and visitors of the Regional park, contribute to raising awareness of the importance of the area and ultimately result in better conservation of habitats and species.

Drava - Donja Dubrava - Legrad
C3_Donja Dubrava-Legrad (2)

Natura 2000 Day

We mark Natura 2000 Day on the 21st of May since 1992 when both the EU Habitats Directive and LIFE programme were approved. Today Natura 2000 consists of more than 27 800 sites on land and sea across EU successfully contributing to the preservation of our unique natural heritage.

This year, we are putting the spotlight on the proximity of Natura 2000 sites to people and on the benefits that nature brings to people and the planet, including those related to health. The Natura 2000 network with its vast coverage brings nature literally to our doorstep. Nature is not a luxury but our vital ally and we need to value, protect and restore it.

We are proud that our whole project area is proclaimed as Natura 2000 and we invite you to go to the Drava River and celebrate this day by cherishing our unique nature.