LIFE Project Cover Photo

DRAVA LIFE Integrated River Management

Reference: LIFE14 NAT/HR/000115 | Acronym: DRAVA LIFE



River ecosystems are extremely threatened in Europe. The Drava in the project area, along with the connected Mura and Danube reaches, is one of Europe's most important examples. The creation of a Transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Mura-Drava-Danube" in Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Serbia is a central part of Europe's largest river protection initiative.


The LIFE project is the first inter-sectorial cooperation and integrated management initiative focusing on Croatian rivers. It aims to implement EU Directives (e.g. Water Framework, Floods, Birds and Habitats) to solve river ecosystem problems. Its specific aims are to:

  • Increase pristine, dynamic river habitats – Dynamic river habitats (gravel, sand and steep banks) are extremely rare along the Drava, but are key for many habitat types and species;
  • Preserve and create new floodplain waters and improve water level dynamics – Floodplain waters are the most threatened parts of the Drava river ecosystem due to riverbed deepening and disconnection from the main river by bank revetments and groynes. Actions will focus on the ‘re-dynamisation’ of the side-arms to benefit habitats and species;
  • Reduce human disturbance of birds – Visitor guidance to avoid negative impacts of uncontrolled human activities is key for the preservation of typical riverine bird species;
  • Increase awareness of Natura 2000 – Natura 2000 sites have just been established along the Drava and in Croatia, but there’s a lack of awareness, which the project will address, to ensure local support;
  • Introduce inter-sectoral river management cooperation in Croatia; and
  • Increase cross-border cooperation along the Drava.
  • Expected results:

  • 40.8 ha land acquired for river restoration;
  • 13 ha new dynamic river zone with gravel, sand and muddy banks and succession stages of floodplain forests (91E0*);
  • 1 000 m dynamic river banks restored/preserved;
  • 11.9 km side-arms restored and 2.6 km newly created;
  • 306 ha floodplain forest (91E0*) improved;
  • Increased breeding populations of gravel/sand breeding birds e.g. little tern (Sterna albifrons)and sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos);
  • Reduction of human disturbance of black stork (Ciconia nigra);
  • Establishment of awareness raising instruments: a new information centre, six info points, a nature educational corner, two monitoring towers, Drava rangers, a toolkit, and other information and educational material;
  • Synergies among water management, nature conservation and NGOs visible due to successful restoration actions;
  • International Drava symposium;
  • Three excursions to other LIFE projects abroad; and
  • Three transnational conservation actions.


    Reference: LIFE14 NAT/HR/000115
    Acronym: DRAVA LIFE
    Start Date: 01/12/2015
    End Date: 30/11/2024
    Total Budget: 4,592,898 €
    EU Contribution: 2,755,739 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Hrvatske vode, Pravna osoba za upravljanje vodama (Croatian waters, Legal entity for water management)
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Ulica grada Vukovara 220, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia Hrvatska
    Contact Person: Igor Tošić

    LIFE Project Map



    • Freshwater
    • River basin management


    • restoration measure
    • river management


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
    • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)


    • 3130 - Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-Nanojuncetea
    • 3150 - Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
    • 3230 - Alpine rivers and their ligneous vegetation with Myricaria germanica
    • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"
    • 91F0 - "Riparian mixed forests of Quercus robur, Ulmus laevis and Ulmus minor, Fraxinus excelsior or Fraxinus angustifolia, along the great rivers (Ulmenion minoris)"


    • Phalacrocorax pygmeus
    • Ixobrychus minutus
    • Egretta garzetta
    • Egretta alba
    • Nycticorax nycticorax
    • Milvus migrans
    • Haliaeetus albicilla
    • Ciconia nigra
    • Ardea purpurea
    • Sterna hirundo
    • Sterna albifrons
    • Alcedo atthis
    • Lutra lutra
    • Castor fiber
    • Pelecus cultratus
    • Rhodeus amarus
    • Misgurnus fossilis
    • Umbra krameri
    • Gymnocephalus schraetzer
    • Gymnocephalus baloni
    • Zingel zingel
    • Zingel streber
    • Aspius aspius
    • Triturus dobrogicus
    • Bombina bombina
    • Ophiogomphus cecilia
    • Emys orbicularis
    • Unio crassus


    Type Code Name
    SPA HR1000013 Dravske akumulacije (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HR1000014 Gornji tok Drave (od Donje Dubrave do Terezinog polja) (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HR1000015 Srednji tok Drave (DEPRECATED)
    SPA HR1000016 Podunavlje i donje Podravlje (DEPRECATED)
    SCI HR2001307 Drava - akumulacije (DEPRECATED)
    SCI HR2001308 Donji tok Drave (DEPRECATED)
    SCI HR5000014 Gornji tok Drave (od Donje Dubrave do Terezinog polja) (DEPRECATED)
    SCI HR5000015 Srednji tok Drave (od Terezinog polja do Donjeg Miholjca) (DEPRECATED)


    Name Type
    Hrvatske vode, Pravna osoba za upravljanje vodama (Croatian waters, Legal entity for water management) Coordinator
    WWF AT(Umweltverband WWF Österreich / WWF Austria), Austria Participant
    JU ZDP VŽ(Javna ustanova za upravljanje zaštićenim prirodnim vrijednostima na području Varaždinske županije (Public institution for management of protected natural values in Varaždin County)), Croatia Participant
    JUZPVKKZ(Javna ustanova za upravljanje zaštićenim prirodnim vrijednostima na području Koprivničko-križevačke županije), Croatia Participant
    JU VPŽ(Javna ustanova za upravljanje zaštićenim dijelovima prirode i ekološkom mrežom Virovitičko-podravske županije), Croatia Participant
    Zeleni Os(Udruga za zaštitu prirode i okoliša Zeleni Osijek / Association for nature and environment protection Green Osijek), Croatia Participant