A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) team has filmed for the first time, using a modern 360-degree camera, the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers in Croatia in order to obtain data about the state of those rivers, which is important for their protection.
It took Goran Safarek, Tomislav Solic and Misel Jelic six days to complete their 400-kilometre journey along the three rivers in Croatia during which they mostly used kayaks as well as a motor boat. A 360-degree video of the rivers is their result.
Petra Boic Petrac of the WWF Adria said that Croatian rivers were in an excellent state and that they offered great potential for sustainable tourism.
She said the purpose of the project was to make material that would be shown to the European Commission and other donors from which the WWF receives large donations.
"This video will be taken as a reference point. It will show if there are any unlawful activities on those rivers. The WWF will post it on its three web sites and it will also be made available to the Nature and Environmental Protection Ministry," said Boic Petrac.
She said that the WWF would like to film the rivers in two years again to look for possible changes and to make similar videos of other Croatian rivers as well.
Boic Petrac said that the WWF was aware that the quality of Croatian rivers and their biological diversity were excellent, as was their geomorphological structure, and that such data helped it in lobbying and persuading governments to keep rivers as they were.
"They are perfect just as they are. That is why Croatia is a gem in terms of nature protection in Europe, and all the other countries should look up to us," she said.
The WWF has been implementing several projects in Croatia, and the establishment of the cross-border biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, covering Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia, is one of them.
The reserve has already been established in Croatia and Hungary and the WWF is working to expand it to Slovenia, Austria and Serbia as well, which Boic Petrac said they hoped would happen next year.
Once established, the biosphere reserve will be the biggest in the world, she said.
Another WWF project, Drava Life, is designed to improve the river Drava's eco-system.
The WWF is also working on a project for sustainable hydro-energy. "The WWF is not saying 'no' to hydro-energy and hydro-electric power plants but only warns that it is not always the best choice. Hydro-energy is green energy, but it is not always green because sometimes its harmful impact on biodiversity is much greater than its benefits," said Boic Petrac.