STA, 15 September 2021 - UNESCO, the United Nations educational scientific and cultural organisation, has formally declared a biosphere reserve spanning the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers, the first five-country biosphere in the world.
The area, spanning 900,000 hectares along the three rivers, has thus become the largest protected riparian reserve in Europe.
The nomination was jointly submitted by Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia in late-2019 and UNESCO formally endorsed it at Wednesday's meeting in Abuja, Nigeria.
The lower sections of the three rivers and their flood plains form one of the most bio-diverse natural environments in Europe.
The river flow constantly creates new habitats for numerous endangered animal and plant species, including more than 300 bird species. Many fish species, such as sterlet and huchen or Danube salmon, use the 700km-long river network to migrate.
Due to its size and potential, the biosphere reserve is "the first example of the protection of our unique natural areas in conjunction with the development of sustainable business practices," said WWF Adria, an environmental NGO.