MURA

SAVE THE AMAZON OF EUROPE

Photo @: Matevž Lenarčič
5 min read

The wildly biodiverse river systems of the Mura, Drava and Danube are poised to become the first five-country transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, likely the largest river protection in Europe.

The 1 million hectares already contain a network of 13 protected areas and are part of Natura 2000. But these legal protections may not be enough to stop unsustainable development.

An Iconic Landscape for Many Countries

The lower courses of the Mura, Drava and Danube Rivers form a 700-kilometer-long "green belt" that connects almost 1,000,000 hectares across Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia.

Together, these create one of the Europe\'s most ecologically important riverine areas, rightly called the Amazon of Europe.

A Refuge for Wildlife

This stunning river landscape hosts an amazing biological diversity and is a hotspot of rare natural habitats such as large floodplain forests, river islands, gravel and sand banks, side branches and oxbows. These habitats are home to the highest density of breeding pairs of white-tailed eagles in Continental Europe and other endangered species such as black stork, sand martin, beaver, otter, and the nearly extinct ship sturgeon.

The basin includes largest floodplain forest in Slovenia
More than 250,000 migratory waterfowls use the rivers to rest and to feed.
51 fish species live in Mura, including the Danube salmon.
The entire length of the Mura in Slovenia is a Natura 2000 area.
The Mura is one of the best-connected rivers in the Amazon of Europe and a guarantor for clean water and healthy forests.

The Slovenian energy lobby threatens this vital ecosystem

This healthy and well-connected stretch of the Mura river is poised to become a series of lifeless reservoirs with eight hydropower plants planned for development. These dams would affect 7,000 hectares of wetlands and put vulnerable wildlife and local communities at risk.

THE SLOVENIAN ELECTRICITY COMPANY "DRAVSKE ELEKTRANE" (DEM) PLANS TO BUILD A HYDROPOWER DAM ON THE MURA IN SLOVENIA AT HRASTJE-MOTA, CLOSE TO THE AUSTRIAN BORDER.

It would be the first in a series of eight hydropower plants planned along the Austrian-Slovenian border. The Slovenian government has already granted concession to DEM for the construction of these dams.

THE PLANNED DAM AT HRASTJE-MOTA IS IN CONFLICT WITH THE OBJECTIVES OF THE EU WATER FRAMEWORK, THE FLOODS, AND THE BIRDS AND HABITATS DIRECTIVES.

It would be the first dam of this kind in a Natura 2000 area, setting a dangerous precedent and increasing pressure on other riverine Natura 2000 sites in the EU.

THE DEVELOPMENT WOULD ALSO JEOPARDIZE THE REALIZATION OF THE PLANNED TRANSBOUNDARY UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE "MURA-DRAVE-DANUBE",

which is cited as a key project for the implementation of the EU Danube Regional Strategy.

WWF and partners are trying to stop it

We need signatures from around the world to show Slovenia that we care about "the Amazon of Europe" and recognize it as a critical part of the whole world's natural heritage

Scientists from Austria and Germany reviewed the government's Environmental Report for the State Spatial Plan for the planned hydropower dam Hrastje-Mota on the Mura River in Slovenia and found the impacts of the planned dam on endangered fish species and floodplain forests are highly underestimated.

The Environmental Report: underestimates the impacts on eight key fish species does not assess potential impact on four additional key species fails to assess the downstream effects of the planned dam on fish populations lacks a proper assessment of impacts on floodplain forests at least halves the negative impacts on softwood forests underestimates or ignores potential impacts at the transboundary level in Natura 2000 areas along the Mura in Austria, Croatia and Hungary proposes inadequate mitigation measures of the potential impacts for species and habitats.

Photos from left to right clockwise: © Goran Safarek, © naturepl.com / Frei / ARCO / WWF, © Mario Romulić, © Wild Wonders of Europe / Dieter Damschen / WWF

The dam can be stopped.

Supporters from around the world must tell Slovenia that we care about "the Amazon of Europe" and recognize it as a critical part of the world's natural heritage.

Say "no" to damming the "Amazon of Europe"!

We have submitted a petition to Irena Majcen, Slovenia's Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning, to stop the eight hydropower dams planned on the Mura. The petition is being reviewed, but more action is needed to save these rivers and landscapes. Please sign our newest petition to stop dams that are planned on the Drava.

SIGN THE PETITION

HOW CAN I HELP

These actions are part of a larger project, “Protection of the European lifeline – Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube (TBR MDD)”, to ensure the protection and sustainable management of transboundary river ecosystems of Mura, Drava and Danube. WWF and its partners work together to prevent bad practices, raise awareness of local people on the benefits of natural rivers and development possibilities for the area under the UNESCO protection, and influence policy across the entire river basin.

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