DRAVA LIFE – Integrated River Management | WWF

DRAVA LIFE – Integrated River Management

Drava River
© Goran Šafarek / WWF
The project “DRAVA LIFE – Integrated River Management” is introducing a new approach in river management and aims to create a best practice example of river restoration in Croatia and the region.

The main goal of the project is to improve the ecosystem of the river Drava in Croatia, which will be achieved through the implementation of river restoration actions in cooperation with the competent authorities in the field of water management and nature protection, and non-governmental organizations.

Restoration actions will be of immense benefit for threatened habitats and species in the Natura 2000 areas, will contribute to the better flood protection in populated areas along the Drava river and increase the recreational value of the area for the local population.

River ecosystems are among the most vulnerable in Europe

Drava is one of the last semi-natural rivers in Central Europe. The construction of 22 hydropower plants in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia river cross-cut the river and only a small part of it is left free flowing, located mainly in Croatia.

With this project key natural characteristics of the river ecosystem will be restored through inter-sectoral collaboration between Hrvatske vode, public institutions for the protection of nature and non-governmental organizations. Planned restoration actions include the opening and the creation of new side-arms, removal and changing of embankements and other old water infrastructure, and preservation of natural retention areas and steep river banks.

Restoration of habitats for people and nature

The DRAVA LIFE project area covers the Drava River in the length of 310 km and includes four Natura 2000 sites on the surface of 67.800 hectares from Dubrava Krizovljanska (322.8 rkm) to Osijek (15 rkm). The project includes the entire length of the Drava River in Croatia, except the part from Osijek to the confluence with Danube (Nature Park Kopački Rit).

These procedures will benefit numerous endangered species and habitats in Natura 2000 areas. Rehabilitation of side-arms and river bed will allow better protection against flooding with existing floodplains. In addition, restoration measures contribute to the local lowering of the water level and redirect the flow during floods away from urban areas, bridges and villages.

Restoration measures in seven pilot areas will be carried out in accordance with the principles of best practice in the management of flood risks (EU Floods Directive) and run in a way that does not endanger the safety of the existing system of flood protection. This will be achieved by expanding side-arms and river bed between dykes, demolition or modifying the old parts of existing regulattion infrastructure and the introduction of modern and environmentally friendly ways of protection. Such sustainable restoration will integrate nature conservation and flood protection.

The project will also have a positive impact on groundwater supplies because it will improve the river infiltration into groundwater and thus stabilize and raise the levels of groundwater. It will also increase the resilience of floodplains ecosystems to the climate change.

In addition, the project will increase the recreational value of the area for local pepole that it use for, fishing, swimming and relaxing.

Restoration sites

DRAVA LIFE integrated river management actions will be implemented on 7 locations along the Drava River:
  • Otok Virje (312 – 314,3 rkm)
  • Old Drava Varaždin (289,3 – 292 rkm)
  • Donja Dubrava – Legrad (240 – 241,45 rkm)
  • Botovo Bridge (226,6 – 227,9 rkm)
  • Novačka (214 – 217 rkm)
  • Miholjački Martinci (104 – 106 rkm), and
  • Podravska Moslavina (96 – 98 rkm).
During the implementation of the project partners will also set up educational centers and educational paths along the Drava River, develop Visitor guidance plan and Action plan for river birds. Also several exhibitions and other awareness raising activities will be organized together with local citizens and schools.

The DRAVA LIFE project started on 1st December 2015 and will finish on 30th November 2020. 

	© WWF


	© Arno Mohl
Gravel banks and meanders mark free flowing sections of the Drava River.
© Arno Mohl
	© Goran Šafarek
Colonies of sand martins on the Drava River
© Goran Šafarek
	© Goran Šafarek
Fishing is a traditional activity for the local people.
© Goran Šafarek
	© Goran Šafarek / WWF
Common tern on the gravel banks of the Drava River
© Goran Šafarek / WWF
	© WWF
Locations of field projects