And the first batch of the dwarf cattail is ready! I prve sadnice su u zemlji! © A.Kuzmanić

World Water Day Marked by the Reintroduction of Dwarf Cattail on the Drava River

LEGRAD – This year’s reintroduction of the dwarf cattail (Typha minima) was held on World Water Day (March 22nd) on several locations along the Drava River. Our expert associate Dragica Purger, PhD, mentioned that the Drava still displays characteristics of a natural, unregulated river.

However, Purger warned that human activity on the river, primarily the construction of hydroelectric power plants, excessive gravel and sand removal, and the construction of regulatory infrastructure, has resulted in major changes in hydromorphological dynamic processes and the ecological condition of the Drava River.

Purger notes that important indicators of negative changes include the disappearance of specific river habitats, gravel and sand banks, as well as the disappearance of key species that depend on these habitats. One of them is the dwarf cattail (Typha minima), which disappeared from the Croatian part of the Drava river in the last three decades. “The reintroduction of dwarf cattail in its natural habitat on the Drava River, implemented within the scope of the DRAVA LIFE project, has a practical and symbolic significance,” Purger said.











Dwarf cattail disappeared from this area more than 20 years ago. To be more precise, it was last recorded on gravel bars near Varaždin in 1994. Both the German tamarisk (Myricaria germanica) and the dwarf cattail (Typha minima) are pioneer species that grow on habitats such as sandbanks and river banks in freshwater ecosystems.

“Given that last year’s reintroduction of dwarf cattail was not completely successful due to extremely high water levels, we decided to reintroduce this extinct river plant once again, this time under the guidance of our expert associate Dragica Purger, PhD. We hope that we will have more luck this year and that the plants will grow well”, explained Branka Španiček from WWF Adria. Španiček added that the ultimate success of reintroduction and repopulation can only be ascertained once the seedlings are fully adapted to the new habitat and once they begin to reproduce.










“Successful reintroduction of this plant species will increase the biodiversity and improve the ecological function of river ecosystems, although the permanent establishment of these populations will depend on the implementation of river revitalization measures. It will also be an indicator of improving river conditions and increasing natural value of the Drava River”, concluded Purger. This year’s reintroduction wouldn’t be possible without help of DRAVA LIFE partners and associates from the Drava Federation (Hungary).

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 :

Mala čigra/Little tern

2018 – Year of the Tern

Zagreb, Croatia – Non-governmental organizations WWF Adria and Biom proclaimed 2018 as Year of the Tern. Both organizations, WWF and Biom, will carry out 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. Activities within the DRAVA LIFE project WWF is a part of and of the Interreg Project Conserving populations of terns in the Sava and Drava basin BIOM is involved with, include actions for conservation of these birds habitat.

Terns are birds that can be found in almost all parts of the world, on seashores as well as on river banks, except the northern regions covered by eternal ice. Most of them are migratory birds that spend their winters in warmer southern regions. They are social and can be seen in smaller or larger flocks, nesting in colonies or individually on gravel islands, rock cliffs, sandy beaches, riverbeds, wetlands, while some of them also nest on trees. Their aerodynamic body allows them to swiftly dive through the air when hunting.

The little tern (Sternula albifrons) is the smallest species in the family of terns. It measures between 20 and 28 centimeters and weighs about 25 grams. Apart from its size and white head, it can be recognized by its yellow beak and orange legs. The common tern (Sterna hirundo) is larger, sized between 31-35 cm and weighing around 110-150 grams. Unlike little terns, common terns have red feet and a red beak with dark top and no white forehead. Both tern species are migratory birds that spend the winter season in Africa. They feed on fish, crabs, insects and molluscs.

Little terns have become extremely rare in Croatia. “Due to the constant disturbance, disappearance of suitable habitats and regulation of the river in the past, there are only four pairs of little tern left on the Drava river. In order to increase the number of pairs and to educate the local population, six information panels about the little tern were set up last year along the Drava river in Koprivnica-Križevci County. This is probably the only habitat for little terns on Drava in Croatia”, says Branka Španiček, project officer at WWF Adria.

Common tern/Crvenokljuna čigra












The nesting population of common terns is estimated to have 400 to 700 pairs in Croatia. Largest colonies are found on the Rakitje and Ormož lakes. “Measures undertaken on natural watercourses such as extraction of gravel out of the river bed, river bank regulation, construction of dams and hydropower plants, water pollution and various sports and recreation activities represent threats which endanger common terns. These activities endanger the success of their nesting. Terns are very often not able to find an adequate place for nesting in the area they inhabit due to the disturbing factors and large fluctuations of water level. Additional disadvantage is the fact that they are subject to predators such as mammals (rats, foxes and otters) and other birds (gulls and crows). This year Biom will protect a colony of common terns from predators on the lake Ormož for the first time by placing an electric fence“, says Biljana Ječmenica, expert associate for protection of nature at the environmental organization Biom.

Beside the need to protect the last nesting pairs of little and common terns and to prevent disturbance of the birds especially during the nesting season from mid-April to late July it is also necessary to restore river dynamics and to allow rivers to create new gravel and sand banks, the usual nesting habitats for these birds. Both projects therefore focus on jointly addressing these threats for both birds and their habitats.