EU Presidency – Ministers sign letter on intent on Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve

Budapest, March 25 (MTI) – Hungarian Minister for Rural Development Sandor Fazekas and his Austrian, Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian counterparts on Friday signed a letter of intent to set up the Mura-Drava-Danube Cross-border Biosphere Reserve.

Before the signing event, Fazekas said this would be the first cross-border biosphere reserve in the region.

Director of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Danube-Carpathian Programme, Andreas Beckman, said this would be the largest biosphere reserve and the first in the world to be created jointly by five countries.

The five participating countries agreed to set up a 15-member coordination body that will control the steps required to gain the biosphere reserve status.

The reserve will cover a large and diverse area from the Alps to central Hungary between the rivers Danube and Tisza, Fazekas said. It will stretch from the Julian Alps in Slovenia to Kopacki Rit in Eastern Croatia, along the Mura and Drava valleys and the confluence of the Drava and Danube, he added.

Fazekas said after Friday’s informal meeting of EU environment ministers in Godollo that a strategy on the protection of European waters is planned to be prepared next year. The Hungarian presidency would like to get council recommendations approved in June, he added.

“Water is national heritage and the most important natural resource in the 21st century,” Fazekas said.