WWF Magyarország

The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...


  • What do we need to know about rivers?
  • What dangers are they threatened by?
  • What does WWF Hungary do?
  • What are the recent news?

What do we need to know about rivers?

Possessing diverse habitats and species richness, stagnant water and rivers represent outstanding natural values in Hungary. Not only are they indispensable for the flora and fauna of aquatic environments, but they also provide primary needs for society: e.g. drinking water. Moreover, they ensure drinking water, as well as breeding and feeding ground for terrestrial organisms.

Besides its natural values, the Danube is a treasure trove for the society in Hungary: the water catchment areas nurtured by Danube river mean secure drinking water for nearly 2 million people. The branches, alluvial forests, wide floodplains and grasslands of the river is characterised by a rich ecosystem. Under the river islands, we can find some drinking water, the treasure of gravel beds. One of the last gems of the increasingly rare natural wetlands in Europe is the Drava river. Nowadays, these ecosystems are unique due to their alluvial forests, gravel and sand bars, eroded banks, branches and oxbows. The Drava and its riverside area are home to birds like White-tailed Eagles, Black Storks, Sand Martins and Little Terns.  

Despite the importance of these areas, on an Eastern-European scale, Hungary’s surface waters are in poor condition (e.g. compared to Romania). Although, our groundwaters are in better condition than our surface waters regarding their numbers and chemical composition, this good quantitative condition is far from good: we are amongst the last 5 members of the European Union. This means that our groundwaters are highly threatened by overuse and deterioration of the aquatic habitats on the surface.


What dangers are they threatened by?

In the last centuries, 87% of aquatic habitats have been destroyed by human activities and their number has declined by 30% in the last 40 years.

In Hungary, less than 20% of surface waters are in adequate ecological condition. Originally, about 23% of the country’s area was covered by natural floodplains, but 90% of them has been destroyed until now.

Today, rivers flow in flood protection dykes, their old floodplains have dramatically decreased as well as their biodiversity and water retention capacity. Thus, they have lost their significant role in preparing for the drought period after floods.The negative impacts of river regulations are easily recognizable: the Danube has lost 80% of its floodplains and the Tisza has decreased by one third, from 1419 km to 962 km. These two rivers are flowing like straight channels compared to their former glory, because of flood protection dykes. 

Plenty of hydroelectric power plants have been constructed on the German and Austrian reaches of the Danube. On the one hand, they supply these countries with energy, but on the other hand, they have removed natural reaches and diversity of the river’s wetlands. However, reaches of the Danube in Hungary and in Southern countries reserve some treasures, which have resisted excessive human intervention.The Tisza river was the lifeblood of the Great Hungarian Plain in the past: plenty of fish, excellent livestock and orchards, wide floodplains, bottomland forests and meadows were characteristic traits of its environment. Nowadays, restricted by dams, the Tisza flows through the Great Plain, so massive flood waves were typical in the last centuries. The river is not capable of reducing the impacts of extreme aridity, but after heavy rains its dykes are full of water. Inland waters along the former bends of the river cause some difficulties in the agricultural sector and the diversity of the ecosystems has decreased. 

Above all, the most important European strategy dedicated to protecting waters was also in danger. The Water Framework Directive, one of the ambitious regulations of the European Union, was suggested to further revision by multiple EU-members. 

However, if the condition of our waters does not ameliorate but becomes worse, our wetlands’ iconic species and environment will be in danger. For instance, in the following decades, there might be a sharp drop in the population of Mayflies in Hungary. Although this population is still characteristic to our rivers, we cannot sit calmly and proudly as their number is decreasing according to some observations. For assuring their protection, we must ameliorate the quality of our waters and we have to ensure the free flow of our rivers.


What does WWF Hungary do?

The objective of our Living Rivers project is to hinder the destruction of Hungarian rivers and their ecosystems, alluvial forests, bogs and marshes, as well as to protect their diversity and to improve their condition. Primarily, we put emphasis on the Danube, the Tisza, the Rába and the Drava rivers.

We restore wetlands in our model areas, and we support the spread of traditional, environmentally friendly economy. This way, we would like to show how reliable land use can ameliorate the condition of lakes, oxbows, rivers’ foreshores and floodplains.

The Danube

WWF works in countries all over the catchment of the Danube: we are working for preserving unique values, which are characteristic to the river. For example, our Romanian co-workers are committed to preserve the exceptional bird population and water wonderland at the most iconic area, the Danube delta. This is the area where WWF Hungary takes part in an international cooperation project, in order to help local people adapt to climate change.

From Belgrade to Szigetköz, the river is accompanied by vast branches and oxbows, many of which were separated artificially from the river. The reunification of these branches could trigger exceptional opportunities, and this is not an easy task. We already have a success in this process: the restoration of the Liberty Island and its branch next to Mohács, thanks to the support of LIFE+ Nature project.

Our projects:

Liberty Island

Living Danube Tour

The Tisza 

WWF Hungary has been working for the sustainable development of the Tisza river area for almost 20 years. Our objective is to connect more and more floodplains with the river, and this way creating new ecosystems and nature-friendly economy alternatives. The Tisza could be the solution for the thirsty Great Plain, and this would be a dream come true.

Our projects:

Danube Floodplain

The Danube Floodplain project was launched in 2018, along the cooperation of countries nearby the river’s catchment area: WWF Hungary participates also in this project. The objective of our work is to harmonize and develop transnational water treatment practices by combining flood risk management and integrated ecological water management practices. Floodplains are of vital importance in the functioning of ecosystems. 

The Drava

The Drava is also at the forefront of our wetland protection projects. The mouth of the Drava and the Danube is one of Europe’s bird wonderlands. Stretches along the Drava, the largest initiative in our region has been launched for the creation of a transboundary nature reserve. The Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve UNESCO project, currently adopted in Hungary and in Croatia, is planned to be expanded across five further countries in the future, so we are working with our Serbian, Slovenian and Austrian partners to fulfil this plan. This protected area of almost 800,000 hectares is commonly called as the Amazon of Europe due to its unique conditions, gravel and sand bars, river islands, eroded banks and unregulated reaches.

Our projects:


We also participate in elaborating and delivering opinion on legislation related to wetlands, as well as informing and convincing policymakers about the protection of the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD). The campaign launched by WWF and its partners aims to maintain the existence of the WFD after the European Committee’s review. Instead of weakening this project, the governments of EU members should support and enforce it. 

We organise diverse events (e.g. Environmental Education project and Big Jumps) for local people and communities to promote our activities. We draw attention to the importance of drinking waters by awareness-raising and we also give some ideas about the reduction of individual water consumption.

We are also ready to mobilise responsible citizens in an intention to protect our waters by presenting petitions: more than 375,000 individuals joined our campaign for protecting the WFD.


What are the recent news?

Interreg Danube Project lifelineMDD

Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia submitted a UNESCO application for the world's first 5-country biosphere reserve Mura-Drava-Danube in April 2020.

2020-08-12 More »

More large areas would be taken away from the Danube because of new large investments

The exact documentation of the new investments planned on the Hajógyári Island has been recently published, which aims at the establishment of a kayak-canoe centre and the investment for flood protection of the whole island.

2020-07-08 More »


EU Water Law Will NOT be Changed, Confirms European Commission

In a landmark day for Europe’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, the European Commission has announced that the EU’s strong water legislation — the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) — will not be changed.

2020-07-02 More »

WWF launches international effort to halt oil and gas drilling in Greek waters

WWF today published a report on the ‘Economic impacts of hydrocarbon exploitation in Greece’ as part of the launch of its international campaign to halt oil and gas drilling plans in the country. The study, commissioned by WWF and conducted by eftec, finds that a major oil spill in Greece would devastate the country’s tourism and fishing industries, and cost the Greek economy more than 7.5 billion euros.

2019-02-13 More »


On track to restore rivers and wetlands in 6 Danube countries

On the eve of Danube Day, 29 June, WWF, The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River take stock of progress of their 7-year partnership for rivers and wetlands in the Danube basin.

2018-06-27 More »

Belize: moratorium on oil activities

Belize becomes a world leader in ocean protection by ending oil activity in its waters. The legislation, which was signed into law on 29 December 2017, marks the first time that a developing country has taken such a major step to protect its oceans.

2018-01-05 More »