On the 17th of November, at the branch of the Drava River near Legrad, a public presentation marked the commencement of work on the first of six planned restoration sites under the DRAVA LIFE – Integrated River Management project. ’ After many years of preparation, the start of restoration at this location is a significant milestone in the implementation of the Project,’ said Mr. Milan Rezo, the director of the Water Management Department for Mura and Gornja Drava in Hrvatske vode.
The opening of a side arm to the Drava, with a total length of 1560 m and connected smaller arms, oxbows, and waters, is planned. This will be achieved through the deepening and removal of natural sediment deposits at the entrance of the side arm, which currently obstruct the water flow from the Drava into the system for most of the year. Additionally, there are plans to remove a 20 m-long traverse that crosses the sidearm. The excavated material will be stored a bit further downstream on the left riverbank, allowing it to be naturally eroded and washed away by the river.
“With the implementation of the DRAVA LIFE project, we are introducing new practices in water management and nature protection based on numerous experiences across Europe”, Milan Rezo, the director of the Water Management Department for Mura and Gornja Drava in Hrvatske vode, said. “These experiences have shown that the restoration of rivers and their floodplains is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to improve the state of the ecosystem and defend against floods. After many years of preparation, the start of work at this location is a significant milestone in the implementation of the Project.’
Speakers at the event included Igor Horvat, Vice-President of the Municipal Council of Legrad Municipality; Ratimir Ljubić, Deputy Prefect of Koprivnica-Križeva County; Milan Rezo, Director of the Water Management Department for Mura and Upper Drava (Hrvatske vode); Jasmin Sadiković from Zeleni Osijek; Željka Kolar, Director of the Public Institution for the Management of Protected Nature Areas in Koprivnica-Križevci County; and Tanja Nikowitz from WWF Austria.
With the restoration of the Drava River, the area will gain attractive landscapes and biological sites, serving as a new resource for the development of ecological tourism and educational activities. Jasmin Sadiković, the project coordinator from the association Zeleni Osijek, highlighted the importance of learning about applied restoration measures, river habitats, and endangered species. He emphasized that this knowledge will enhance the understanding of the need for protection and coexistence of local communities with the ecosystem of the river Drava, while presenting the project’s achievements so far and plans for the next period.
According to Željka Kolar, the director of the JU for the Management of Protected Areas of Nature in Koprivnica-Križevačka County, “Renovation activities will be of great importance for the preservation of target species and habitat types in the Natura 2000 areas covered by the project.”
Tanja Nikowitz from WWF Austria emphasized the broader context, stating, “The recently agreed Regulation on the Restoration of Nature, which should soon be adopted by the EU Council and Parliament, urges member states like Croatia to restore degraded ecosystems. River restoration projects like the DRAVA LIFE project are an important step in the implementation of this new Regulation and the joining of forces against climate change and the loss of biodiversity.” She added, “The area of the DRAVA LIFE project is included in the world’s first Five-country UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, known as the ‘Amazon of Europe.’ This extraordinary initiative embodies the joint commitment of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia, demonstrating that conservation knows no borders.”
Igor Tošić, the project manager from Hrvatske vode, presented the upcoming plans and led participants to the side-branch, where the work was ceremonially started by burying shovels.
A sincere gratitude to everyone who joined us, making this day truly special! Your presence and support mean the world to us.