Rare animal species in Drava river basin face extinction
VARAZDIN (Croatia) -- Work on regulation of the Drava river sparked outrage among environmental organisations, warning that it might lead to extinction of numerous protected species.
Drava's valuable wetlands and natural habitats are being endangered by the large-scale extraction of river gravel directly from the riverbed inCroatia's part stretching 20km from the northern town of Varazdin to the border with Slovenia, the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature said.
Croatian authorities claim that the works on the river regulation are necessary to protect the area from the floods.
But according to the WWF, it leads to the destruction of the natural habitats for almost 50 rare species including white-tailed eagles, black storks, beavers, otters and turtles.
The gravel extraction from river beds and banks apart from directly causing biodiversity loss also causes the groundwater tables to fall and the drying out of forests.
'This outstanding natural area could soon be lost if Croatian authorities do not take a more responsible attitude to managing their natural resources,' David Reeder, a WWF expert leading a protection of Drava project, said.
Environmental groups have urged an immediate halt to the work and are calling for a parliamentary debate to ensure the protection of the river's natural richness.
The environmentalists explain that the river's ecosystem has just begun to adapt to the changes caused by the construction and working regime of three hydroelectric plants in the area, and that the continuation of works on river regulation could thus have disastrous effects. -- AFP