The Mura-Drava-Danube floodplain spans five countries and serves various important functions for the local population (fresh water, flood protection, soil condition for agriculture). The relevance of this natural site for these countries has led to the creation of a single biosphere reserve with the aim of promoting environmental protection under a common framework and objectives. More in detail, the Biosphere reserve fulfils three functions:
- Maintaining ecosystems
- Developing the region on socio-economically and ecologically sustainable terms
- Encouraging education, research and environmental monitoring.
Croatia (Regional Park Mura-Drava), Hungary (National Park Danube-Drava), Serbia (Special Nature Reserve Upper Danube) and Slovenia (Biosphere Reserve Mura)
The cross-border Biosphere Reserve is managed by national bodies responsible for environmental protection and nature conservation and, thus, is financed by national resources. In addition, the reserve benefits from other funding sources for implementing specific projects and initiatives, such as Interreg Programmes and EU LIFE.
The initiative fits naturally with the biodiversity objectives of The EU Birds and Habitats Directives. The initiative also aligns with the EU Danube Regional Strategy, the regional basis for future EU funding priorities. Since the creation of the Biosphere Reserve in 2009 with the ministerial declaration between Croatia and Hungary, other biosphere reserves have been added to the area, such as the inclusion of the Serbian biosphere reserve of Bačko Podunavlje in 2017 and the Austrian reserve Lower Mura Valley in 2018. In September 2021, the Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, the world’s first five-country biosphere reserve, was designated by UNESCO, allowing for the establishment of intergovernmental tools ensuring political commitment and joint actions to protect the reserve.
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