A five-country nomination to declare the landscape of the Mura, Drava, and Danube rivers, also called the European Amazon, a biosphere reserve has been sent to the UNESCO, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Monday.
Once UNESCO confirms the joint nomination, sent on September 30 by Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia, the rich landscape which spans from Austria to Serbia will become the world’s first biosphere reserve run by five countries, the WWF said.
The three rivers form a 700-kilometre green belt connecting more than 930,000 hectares of land, and its core and buffer zones include 13 protected areas. Rare flood forests, sandbanks, river islands, and backwaters form a unique river and cultural landscape.
The European Amazon is home to Europe's largest population of the white-tailed sea eagle as well as many other endangered animal species and is an important area for more than 250,000 migratory birds.
Close to 900,000 people depend on the Mura, Drava and Danube. Flood areas protect settlements from floods and enable the supply of drinking water while exceptional river landscapes increase the potential for sustainable tourism, the WWF said.
Cross-border cooperation is a strong indicator of closer regional cooperation with the aim of protecting nature. Work on the joint nomination is an example of inter-state cooperation on an important issue, said Petra Remeta of the WWF.