Thursday, 16 September 2021

Croatia Part of UNESCO Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve Crossing 5 Countries

September 16, 2021 - The UNESCO-declared Mura-Drava-Danube biosphere reserve is the first in the world to cross over five countries - Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia.

On Wednesday, UNESCO declared the Mura, Drava, and Danube area the world's first five-state biosphere reserve. The largest protected river area in Europe is an excellent example of cooperation between the five countries. The biosphere reserve stretches across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia to almost a million hectares and 700 kilometers of river flow, reports HRTurizam.

Recall, the joint nomination of the five countries was sent to UNESCO in September 2019, and it was the last step of the puzzle to declare the Mura-Drava-Danube the world's first five-state biosphere reserve. Due to its unique habitats and numerous rare species, the biosphere reserve is also known as the European Amazon.

The biosphere reserve area abounds in rare habitats such as large floodplain forests, sand and gravel banks, steep banks, and backwaters. They are home to the largest population of bald eagles in Europe and the nesting ground of many endangered bird species such as sand martin, little terns and black storks, beaver and otter habitats, and fish such as sturgeon.

About a million people depend on the Mura, Drava, and Danube, and these three rivers have shaped their lives. Floodplains protect settlements from floods and supply drinking water, while exceptional river landscapes increase the potential for sustainable tourism development.

"Cross-border nomination is a strong indicator of strengthening regional cooperation and unification of countries with a unique goal of nature protection. Working on a joint nomination is an excellent example of interstate cooperation on such an important issue," said Petra Remeta, director of the WWF Adria nature protection program back in 2019.

The value was also recognized by the European Union, which co-financed projects worth more than 20 million euros, which contribute to the protection of nature and the development of this area.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Cultural Identity of Vukovar: New Book Presented in Vukovar

June 9, 2021 - The fascinating question of the Cultural Identity of Vukovar is researched in a new book edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez. However, as the editors stressed in the introduction, further research is needed to encompass all social groups in Vukovar and their contribution to the heritage of Vukovar.

After being published back in April this year, the book „Cultural Identity of Vukovar – Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors“, was presented this Wednesday in Vukovar. As Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute writes on its website the book was published in cooperation with the Vukovar State Archive, so it was only suitable that the first book presentation was held in Vukovar at the videoconference hall of College Of Applied Sciences „Lavoslav Ružička“ (named after a famous Croatian chemist whose work is awarded a Nobel Prize). In addition, the event marked International Archive Day.

The book was edited by Dr. Mateo Žanić and Petar Elez, and the presentation, alongside editors, saw scientific experts Dr. Dražen Živić, Mirela Hutinec, and Dr. Domagoj Tomas talks about the book.

„Fast events triggered by globalization process and information revolution which paradoxically lead to today's societies being fiercely occupied with the meaning of past, and preserving its valuable traces. In that context, there is a spreading interest for heritage that holds an important component to understand the relationship between the past and present“, says the editorial introduction of the book.

The editors went on to explain how „the city proved to be futile to interpret the meaning of heritage and its contribution to cultural identity,“ and the editors wanted to present various aspects of Vukovar's cultural heritage.

Apart from editors Žanić (who wrote a chapter „Layers of memories and material heritage in modern-day Vukovar) and Elez (author of the chapter „State archive in Vukovar and development of archive service in Vukovar-Srijem County“), the book features eight more authors. Ivan Rogić (Whose Heritage? Who is the successor?), Dražen Živić (on Vukovar's feudalists), Vlasta Novinc („Danube, food, Corso“), Dragana Drašković (on the cultural life of Borovo Selo), and more by Dragan Damjanović, Toni Roca, Ivana Bendra and Ivan Hubalek.

With these broad presentations of culture and heritage in Vukovar, editors hope this book will encourage further research as they are aware this is certainly not the final word on these interesting questions and issues.

„As editors, we are aware that the book does not deal with topics that concern different social groups that left their trace in Vukovar end enrich the history of the city. We hope that future editions that will deal with this topic expand the reach of issues and help us to realize better what do we inherit from the past and why is that important“, concludes the introduction of the book.

So far, the book is available only in Croatian, and research that will, as editors say, deal with other social groups in Vukovar is yet to come. Keeping in mind the terrible aftermaths of the war in Vukovar in the 90s and inter-ethnic tensions, further findings on joint cultural contribution to Vukovar may indeed be the enlightenment needed for peaceful cohabitation and development of Vukovar as a perspective city in Croatia.

Speaking of heritage, learn more about UNESCO recognized heritage in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Two Croatian Projects Among Finalists for European Natura 2000 Award

September 8, 2020 - The European Commission has announced the finalists of the European Natura 2000 Award for 2020.

The Natura 2000 network is formed of 27,800 sites and ensures the survival of Europe's invaluable and threatened species and habitats. The Natura 2000 Award thus rewards excellence in the management of these sites and highlights the value of the network for local economies. 

Among the 27 finalists this year are two projects with Croatian partners, which will compete in five categories.

Namely, LENA - Local Economy and Nature Conservation in the Danube region, received 295 votes to become a finalist. 

"WWF Bulgaria, in partnership with 12 other organisations, led this initiative aimed at addressing the economic difficulties and depopulation linked to unemployment in the lower reaches of the Danube region as part of the Interreg project LENA.

The overall objective was to find ways of creating new nature-based business initiatives and to share know-how and experience on sustainable economic development in 15 Natura 2000 sites in six EU countries and one neighbouring country: Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Serbia. Over 1 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were involved in the initiative. Wild plant collectors, fishermen and farmers were trained and given assistance in adding value to their businesses.

A refrigeration showcase was purchased to support the local trade in fresh products in Bulgaria. 169 participants engaged in capacity-building workshops on sustainable wild plant collection in four countries according to the FairWild certification. Links between harvesters, traders and processors were established and a business plan for a wild plant purchasing point was made in Ivanovo, Bulgaria.

Certificates for products from three protected areas were introduced (for Slavonian pigs in the Dunav-Vukovar Natura 2000 Site in Croatia, non-GMO products in future Natura 2000 sites in Serbia, and local agricultural products in the Comana Natura 2000 site, Romania). 225 local and national authorities were involved in policy workshops, and four guidance documents and recommendations for better policy support of green jobs were distributed to stakeholders. Around 280 000 tourists and locals from Natura 2000 sites were made aware of the importance of the sites and nature-based jobs.

Sustainable forms of tourism, such as rural, cultural and culinary tourism, were supported through the establishment of a network of Danube guides represented by each country (Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria). Currently, the network has 100 trained guides in six countries, a protected logo and a website ( Building on the success of the project, an additional network has been launched on E-mobility– with E-stations, E-bikes and E-managers. A policy framework for green jobs was also supported," reads the description on the EU Natura 2000 website.

ECO KARST - For Nature and For People, received 566 votes.

"Led by the Slovenia Forest Service in partnership with 11 organisations from nine countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina), the Interreg-funded ECO KARST project aimed to address one of the main challenges in nature conservation, namely bridging the gap between the needs of biodiversity preservation and the improvement of the livelihoods of local populations.

To do this, the project brought together seven protected areas – so-called karst bio-regions - from across the Danube Region to find ways of generating and supporting new socio-economic opportunities that are in keeping with the extremely fragile karstic Natura 2000 habitats (e.g., intermittent lakes, beech forests, wet and dry meadows) and that are based on their valued ecosystem services.

The first step was to map all the ecosystem services generated by the karst habitats in these seven Natura 2000 sites. 57 maps (eight per pilot area) were produced in total and then analysed, in close collaboration with local stakeholders, to identify areas that could become Biodiversity Investment Opportunities (BIO). The 23 BIO maps were used in turn to prepare Local Action Plans, in which each protected area aimed to combine the necessary conservation guidelines with the potential for local, sustainable, and nature-friendly economic development.

These Action Plans have since been integrated into official park management plans and other relevant documents in each of the parks, to ensure that locals and nature are brought closer together and where possible are mutually supportive. The Action Plans include some 146 new measures (21 per protected area) that are of common interest to both park authorities and local stakeholders, with shared responsibilities.

The project also sought to actively encourage new socio-economic activities in the sites and therefore launched a call for Pro-Biodiversity Businesses (PBBs). In total, 70 entrepreneurs responded to the PBB award calls, and 23 were awarded support. These are businesses that create profits, without harming nature or even by actively conserving it. PBBs represent a concrete and viable option for achieving sustainable development within European protected areas and the entire Natura 2000 network.

Together, the Action Plans and PBBs have been a vital step in bridging the gap between the needs of biodiversity preservation and the improvement of the livelihoods of local populations," says EU Natura 2000 on its website.

You can read more about the Natura 2000 finalists HERE.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

French Magazine 'Le Figaro' Falls in Love with Slavonia

August 13, 2019 - Slavonia is in the French spotlight! 

One of France's most influential media outlets, the Le Figaro Magazine, published a major 10-page report on Slavonia in its weekly issue. The report was prepared by Jean-Louis Tremblais, a journalist and lover of Croatia, in collaboration with Eric Martin, one of the most respected French photographers, reports HRTurizam.

In September last year, the duo, organized by the Croatian National Tourist Board, stayed in Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar-Srijem counties, and their "Slavonian experiences" were translated into a sizeable photographic report entitled "On the Borders of Croatia. A Terrace on the Danube."

In the published report, which will be seen by millions of potential French tourists, Slavonia was named an open-air museum that will delight lovers of untouched nature and cultural heritage, as well as those attracted by undiscovered landscapes away from the tourist bustle and well-known destinations. "From gourmets to lovers of history, wine, horses and nature, Slavonia is an undiscovered corner of Europe for guests of exquisite taste," the influential French weekly revealed.

The report follows the breeding of Lipizzaners, which is part of the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, and mentioned traditional manifestations cultivated in Slavonia, such as Vinkovci Autumn, which retains authenticity and is a rarity in the tourist destinations of today. This historic region is also presented as a gastronomic paradise for lovers of local specialties such as kulen and various wine varieties such as traminac and graševina.

A separate section of the report entitled "Hedonistic and Cultural Escape from Everyday Life" provides a detailed overview of the most attractive restaurants, hotels, parks and museums to visit. During their stay in Slavonia, Tremblais and Martin visited many other tourist attractions such as Kopački rit, the ethno-village of Karanac, the Vučedol Culture Museum, the cathedral in Đakovo and others.

HTZ points out that filming the 90-minute well-known culinary show "Cuisine Impossible", which was initiated by the Croatian National Tourist Board and in cooperation with representative offices and local communities, was recently completed in June this year in Vukovar-Srijem County, in which the art of preparing fish stew will be presented to the French audience.

Thus, during the first seven months, 315,000 arrivals and 1.1 million overnight stays were recorded by French tourists, which represents a growth of 7 percent in arrivals and 6 percent in overnight stays compared to the same period last year.

In July, however, 136,000 arrivals and 530,000 overnight stays were recorded, which represents a 10 percent growth in arrivals and overnight stays compared to July last year.

You can find the Le Figaro spread on Slavonia here.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Friday, 28 June 2019

Croatia Attending Meeting of Danube Countries

ZAGREB, June 28, 2019 - A two-day forum of the Danube River Basin countries started in Bucharest on Thursday, with speakers at the event saying that the EU's cohesion policy, which helps reduce differences between the EU's rich and poor member-countries, was a foundation of prosperity.

Addressing the event, European Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cretu expressed hope that debates and other activities at the forum would help encourage prosperity in the Danube region.

We cannot secure better living standards for citizens across the EU without putting our identities together and demonstrating solidarity, she said.

Attending the forum were representatives of 14 countries through which the Danube passes or into which its basin extends, and where 112 million people live, which is around 20% of the EU population.

The European Commission in 2010 adopted a strategy for the Danube region as part of which it finances joint projects of nine member-countries and five countries that are still not members.

One of those projects concerns joint crisis management in cases of natural disasters such as floods.

This forum is an opportunity for countries that are not EU members to sit at the same table with EU member-countries, Cretu said, adding that this was an added value of the Danube strategy.

The attending representatives from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine, discussed road construction, environmental protection, tourism, cultural cooperation and security.

The next forum of the Danube River countries, to be held in 2020, could be organised in Croatia which takes over the six-month presidency of the Council of the EU in January.

More Danube news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Vukovar Mobility Centre Promoting Sustainable Travel

ZAGREB, April 24, 2019 - A 128,434-euro regional mobility centre was opened in the eastern town of Vukovar on Tuesday, as part of the Transdanube.Pearls project, which promotes sustainable travel along the Danube.

As much as 85% of the total value of the centre comes from the European Regional Development Fund.

The Transdanube.Pearls project covers 15 partners from nine countries, the leading partner being the Environment Agency Austria. Its implementation started on 1 January 2017 and ends on 30 June 2019.

According to information on the website of the Transdanube.Pearls project, the central element of the project is the establishment of a network of about a dozen destinations committed to sustainable mobility for tourists and inhabitants along the Danube.

Mayor Ivan Penava said that the funding obtained under the project had been used to promote the work of the Vukovar Tourism Board, of which the regional mobility centre is part, as well as the town’s accommodation facilities.

The regional mobility centre will provide information on possibilities of sustainable travel in the area of Vukovar – by train, bus, bicycle or e-boat.

As a town on the Danube, Vukovar was interesting to partners because it has a boat that runs on solar power and invests significant funds in cycling infrastructure and has been recording an increase in the number of visiting cyclists.

More Vukovar news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

2nd DunavArt Festival Concludes

It was another successful edition of the festival fcocused on the Danube region.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Port of Vukovar Intensifying International Cooperation

ZAGREB, March 14, 2018 - A second meeting of representatives of the Vukovar Danube river port and Romania's Danube-Black Sea port of Constantza was held in that eastern Croatian town on Wednesday to mark the long-lasting cooperation of the two ports, its results and the potential for advancing it.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Dead Fish on the Danube: Natural or Man-Made Phenomenon?

A local resident noticed some dead fish on the Danube on May 21, 2017, a finding that the Ministry of Fisheries said was 'suspicious'.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Popular Vukovar Waterbus "Bajadera" Goes Solar this Year!

The popular Vukovar waterbus “Bajadera” by Danubium Tours has quickly become a recognizable tourist product of Vukovar and Croatia.

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