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President of the Republic of Slovenia and Austrian Federal President Patrons of the "5-Country Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube Conference

Bad Radkersburg, Austria- – More than 120 scientists, nature conservationists, people working in public institutions, NGOs and local stakeholders, gathered in Bad Radkersburg for a 3-day conference “5-Country Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube”. Since the conference, which opened yesterday night with a welcome dinner and the celebration of the first anniversary of UNESCO’s recognition of the biosphere reserve, is taking part in two countries – Castle in Gornja Radgona in Slovenia and Zehnerhaus Bad Radkersburg in Austria - it has two honorary patrons: President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor and Austrian Federal President Dr. Alexander Van der Bellen.
 
The world’s first ‘5-country biosphere reserve’ (TBR MDD) represents an international model for transboundary cooperation in conservation and sustainable regional development. The conference is a mixture of nature conservation program presentations with high-level speakers, various workshops, excursions to the Mura, Drava, and Danube areas, and opportunities for the informal exchange of knowledge among the participants.
 
This conference is organized within the Interreg project “Protecting and restoring ecological connectivity in the Mura-Drava-Danube river corridor through cross-sectoral cooperation” (lifeline MDD). The project has only a few more months to go, therefore the conference also serves as final conference for this project.
 
 ”We are very happy that we could organize this conference in the frame of our project and show people what we have done in the last two years. The partnership – we are 12 partners and 17 associated partners from 5 countries – has worked hard on scientific studies, restoration measures, the development of guiding documents such as a river restoration toolbox, educational activities and concepts for the future involvement of stakeholders. We hope that this conference will also support the uptake of the project’s output for the future implementation of the TBR MDD” says Kerstin Böck, project lead from WWF Austria .
 
The goal of the lifelineMDD project was to prepare an integrated cross-border strategy for the restoration of the river corridor of three rivers in five countries, based on scientific research, pilot measures and cross-sectoral learning. This conference set a good basis for improved communication among stakeholders of the TBR MDD area, such as different organizations, universities and nature conservation institutions to public authorities and local communities.

In the frame of the conference also the need for future actions was stressed. Arno Mohl, leader of the Mura-Drava-Danube program at WWF pointed out: “Together we have achieved the designation of the TBR MDD and started to implement it. And this is reason for hope.  However, in the light of climate change and continuous threats such as new hydropower dams, river regulation or sediment extraction  it is now again time to take bold action! And in this regard, we will need again to think big, to establish a new vision for the implementation of the TBR and to realize large scale river restoration.” Mohl motivated the participants to use the results and the visionary approach of the conference to take joint action for making the TBR a real joint success story.
lifelineMDD conference