Danube Virtual Museum

Special Nature Reserve "Upper Podunavlje"

The special nature reserve "Upper Podunavlje" is a protected natural resource of first category. It is located on the left bank of the Danube in the area from the 1367 km to the 1433 km of its course.

It is a part of a large marshland complex that extends through the neighboring Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Croatia. Taken as a whole, it is one of the last big flood areas in the territory of the European continent. It consists of two big marshes, Monoštorski and Apatinski, which together make 19,605 ha of forests, meadows, ponds and wetlands, including the river Danube and its meanders. Extensive land reclamation works undertaken on drying the ground in the last two centuries have caused that the area, today affected by floods from the second largest European river, becomes reduced to a narrow strip along the Danube. Therefore, the reserve boundaries today are only the remains of the former widely spread marsh ecosystem on the ground of the Pannonian Plain.

The construction of dikes in the 1960s, once again drastically changed water regime in this area which has further threatened the existence of the Danube marshes. People have always built their communities along the fertile river alluvium. People have inhabited this area since ancient times and therefore the Upper Podunavlje should be understood in the context of the synergy of men and nature. Danube, by virtue of being the source of life for many plant and animal forms, was and still is providing man with possibilities to engage with various different activities upon which, especially in the past, his survival depended. The great river has given so much to man, and sometimes took even more. Looking at the maps, it can be seen that the Danube constantly squirmed over the centuries, probably trying to find a peaceful ideal flow. In this dance in the Pannonian plain man has always been its constant companion.

The reserve represents one of the last refuges for wildlife associated with flood areas. The reserve counts 51 species of mammals, 248 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 11 species of amphibians, 9 species of reptiles, large numbers of invertebrates, especially butterflies with over 60 species, more than 1000 species of plants...

The richness of avifauna is characteristic and stands out with rare species such as white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) and black stork (Ciconia nigra). Upper Podunavlje is inhabited with the largest populations of European red deer (Cervus elaphus) in our country, one of the last of its kind in an authentic marsh environment. Also in the reserve, there is some of the best spawning along the 2857 km long course of the Danube River: in Old Dunavac, Petreš, Srebrenica and Staklara. Dense, almost impenetrable marsh forests of native poplar and willow are now almost a relict. Wolf's bane (Eranthis hyemalis), water violet (Hottonia palustris) and mares tail (Hippuris vulgaris) are some of the most endangered species that have found their refuge in this area.

In addition to biodiversity, the Upper Podunavlje is also adorned with authentic cultural heritage. As a result of adapting to the great river and its moods, some of the typical native customs, costumes, language, fishing tools, boats and food were created. This is actually what lures visitors and makes the Upper Podunavlje an attractive destination for them. Some settlements, such as the legendary Bodrog, got in the way of the mighty river and forever disappeared in its eddies. The others, however, still cherish the authentic folklore and colors, such as Bački Breg, Bezdan, Bački Monoštor or Sonta. Our modern understanding of nature, which is based on the principles of sustainability, presumes an active role of the people, especially the local population, which is the backbone of development and protection of natural resources. In the end, it is a lively and active process that means turning to farming, conservation, tourism, education and similar forms.

Upper Podunavlje is one of the few destinations where you can still enjoy the ride along the Danube, endless backwaters and canals, unfettered roar of the deer, peaceful nights in rural households, authentic seafood dishes, and the last of the Danube fishermen.

The Government of the Republic of Serbia recognized this area as an area of great significance and declared it the Special Nature Reserve "Upper Podunavlje" entrusting it to "Vojvodinašume" Petrovaradin, FE "Sombor" Sombor in July 2001.

International status:

IBA area (2007)
Ramsar site (2007)
IPA area (2007)

Nominated for UNESCO's Transboundary Biosphere Reserve "Mura-Drava-Danube" (2012)

UNESCO's Transboundary Biosphere Reserve will unite more than 10 individual protected areas on Mura, Drava and Danube rivers (Nature Park "Kopački rit" at the confluence of the Drava and the Danube Regional Park "Mura-Drava" in Croatia, the Special Nature Reserve "Upper Danube" in Serbia, the National Park "Danube-Drava" in Hungary, as well as Natura 2000 sites in Slovenia and Austria) and will jointly manage the river ecosystems in a sustainable manner, boosting economic momentum and growth in the region.

The concept of biosphere reserve covers about 260,000 hectars of the core zone and the zone of influence as well as an additional 540,000 hectars of the transitional zone. The core zone is protected by law, and consists of the existing network of protected areas as an ecological reserve base. Basically, it covers the areas of rivers and floodplains, which are mostly located within the flood-protection embankments.


In the area of the Mura, Drava and Danube rivers, as part of the UNESCO's cross-border reserve biosphere, ecosystems of living rivers should be protected. These ecosystems consist of well-preserved typical habitats, species and natural processes, which are actually the basis for ecosystem services and community development in accordance with nature. In recent years, enormous progress has been made. This includes the establishment of a network of protected areas in five countries, the joint ministerial agreement for the founding of reserves and the beginning of the reserve declaration. However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Special Nature Reserve "Upper Podunavlje"

(Text: Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province)