Europe has a lot to offer. Not only a wide variety of beautiful landscapes, history and cultures, but also a healthy environment:
Perhaps the world’s healthiest diet, the Mediterranean diet is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olive oil. It features fish and poultry—lean sources of protein—over red meat. Red wine is consumed regularly but in moderate amounts.
Iceland has seemingly avoided many of the diseases that have plagued other countries. They have low rates of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
The world’s least polluted countries are all in Northern Europe: Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia.
UNESCO has designated the world’s first biosphere to span across five different countries – and they’re all in Europe.
With the world facing climate and nature crises, UNESCO’s designation today of the Mura-Drava-Danube as the world’s first ‘5-country biosphere reserve’ represents a historic step towards a new era for people and nature in Europe as well as an international model for regional conservation, climate resilience and sustainable development.
Stretching across Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, the biosphere reserve covers 700km of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers and a total area of almost 1 million hectares in the so-called ‘Amazon of Europe’ – making it the largest riverine protected area on the continent.
"This landmark cross-border designation is a powerful demonstration of a shared green vision that builds on, and reinforces, both regional cooperation and unity in Europe,” said Andrea Johanides, CEO of WWF Austria. “It is a significant step forward in protecting the region’s natural and cultural treasures and serves as a striking example of how protected areas can benefit communities and wildlife – and bring countries together.”
With its rare floodplain forests, gravel and sand banks, islands, oxbows and riverine meadows, the new Mura-Drava-Danube reserve sustains extraordinary biodiversity as well as the livelihoods of 900,000 people.
Boasting continental Europe’s highest density of breeding white-tailed eagles, the region is home to otters, beavers and critically-endangered sturgeons. It is also an important stopover site for more than 250,000 migratory birds every year.
The biosphere reserve’s spectacular, pristine landscapes also lure increasing numbers of visitors to this Amazon of Europe, highlighting the potential for the development of sustainable nature-based tourism. Meanwhile, its intact floodplains ensure clean drinking water supplies and help protect communities from floods – an increasing concern in the era of climate change.
“Five countries have agreed to jointly protect one of the most unique river corridors in Europe. These healthy freshwater habitats play a significant role in climate change adaptation and their preservation will help the region prepare for climate change - the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced,” said Katalin Sipos, CEO of WWF Hungary.
The biosphere reserve represents an important contribution to the European Green Deal as well as contributing to the implementation of the EU’s new biodiversity strategy. It is also an international demonstration of how the protection of unique natural areas must be integrated with sustainable development.
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