The Križnica area is protected under several categories. Starting from the category of national value to the category of international protection in the area of nature and habitat the protections are:
- Značajni krajobraz (Significant landscape)
- Regionalni park Mura Drava (the Regional Park Mura – Drava )
- Natura 2000 (Natura 2000)
- Rezervat biosfere Mura-Drava-Dunav (The Biosphere Reserve Mura – Drava – Danube)
The decision of protecting Križnica (surface of 803,17 ha) as a significant landscape has been made in 2001 by the Council of the Virovitica Podravina County. The borders have been defined in the Register as follows: KRIŽNICA is situated in the western part of the Municipality of Pitomača in the k.o. Pitomača II. The border goes along the state border with the Republic of Hungary starting at the border stone marked B 654 east bound to the border stone marked B 777 and the riverbanks of the Drava towards the west towards the starting border stone B 654, with the surface of 802.57 hectares. It is also important to note that alonside the protected Križnica area there are 3 other protected areas, they are: the Širine island (surface of 105,65 hectares), Vir (surface of 1,15 hectares) and Jelkuš (surface of 291,85 hectares).
– Swamp habitat Vir situated near the village of Starogradački Marof (Municipality of Pitomača) is protected because of the rare plant and animal species that live there. It has a constant supply of water from the ground. The most significant species of plants: water soldiers (Stratiotes aloides), golden rods (Solidago sp.), common frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae), bindweed (Calystegia sp.), water lillies, duckweed. Rare plant communities: Hydrocharo – stratiotetum aloides. Rare and endangered fish species: European mud minnow (Umbra krameri) – endangered in the whole EU, also crucian carp, tench, roach and the spined loach.
– The Širine island is a natural landscape bounded by a river branch and the main flow of the Drava river in the Municipality of Pitomača. It is an isolated habitat for many bird species. When the water level is low, the old Drava flow becomes a crossing point for animals.
– Jelkuš is a protected landscape bordered by the Croatian – Hungarian border and the Drava River in the Municipality of Pitomača. It is an isolated bird habitat and a sandbar. It is protected by the Nature protection Law of the Republic of Croatia and by the EU directives regarding birds and habitats.
The Regional Park Mura – Drava
On 11th February 2011, the Government of the Republic of Croatia (NN 22/11) proclaimed the Regional Park Mura – Drava as a kind of prework to submitting a claim to UNESCO to proclaim the Biosphere Reserve Mura – Drava – Danube together with Hungary. With the aforementioned Regulation the whole flow of the rivers Mura and Drava are protected according to the Law on protecting nature in the regional park category of protection. This is the first regional park in the Republic of Croatia. It consists of flooded areas alongside the river’s flow and includes transient areas with agricultural land and smaller villages near the rivers until the Drava’s estuary into the Danube near Aljmaš. According to the Regulation of proclaiming the Regional Park Mura – Drava, its total surface in all 5 counties is 87.680,52 hectares.
Natura 2000 is an ecological network of sanctuaries for rivers and endangered species which refers to 18% of the EU land territory and 9,5% sea territory of the EU. Natura 2000 is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world and gives refuge to the most valuable and the most endangered European species and habitats. The Natura 2000 areas are chosen with the aim of preserving the existence of species and habitats protected in the Directives about birds and the Directives about habitats. The habitats are chosen by scientific study. The Natura 2000 network consists of different types of ecosystems, including land, freshwater and marine ecosystems. The ecosystem may contain one or more ecosystems in which mostly various communions of plants and animals coexist. However, some ecosystems in the Natura 2000 networks are more commonly represented than others. For example, forest ecosystems are represent nearly 50 % of network surfaces while agro-ecosystems (meadows and other agricultural areas) represent about 40 % of the network.
The Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava- Dunube
The cross-border Biosphere Reserve Mura – Drava – Danube between Croatia and Hungary was proclaimed in 2012 on the 24th meeting of the International Coordinating Council of the Programme “Man and Biosphere”. The United Nations organisation for education, science and culture (UNESCO) leads the Global network of biosphere reserves within this programme. The International Coordination Council of the programme decided that the Mura – Drava – Danube area, which were commonly nominated by Croatia and Hungary, will become part of the global network of biosphere reserves. The nomination for the cross-border biosphere reserve was coordinated by combined forces, the Ministry of environmental protection and energy and the State institute of environmental protection from the Croatian side, helped by the work of domestic and international non-government organisations.
Nominacija za prekogranični rezervat biosfere koordinirana je zajedničkim snagama, s hrvatske strane predvođenim Ministarstvom zaštite okoliša i prirode i Državnim zavodom za zaštitu prirode, te potpomognutim radom domaćih i međunarodnih nevladinih udruga. Nadležna Ministarstva s hrvatske i mađarske strane potpisala su 17. rujna 2009. Zajedničku izjavu o uspostavi ovog prekograničnog rezervata biosfere, dok je kao preduvjet za njegovu nominaciju Republika Hrvatska u veljači 2011. proglasila Regionalni park Mura-Drava. Ovaj prekogranični rezervat biosfere drugo je područje Republike Hrvatske uključeno u ovu mrežu, nakon Velebita proglašenog 1977. godine. Kao što je ranije rečeno, rijeke Mura-Drava-Dunav predstavljaju poplavni riječni ekosustav koji ima visoku biološku i krajobraznu raznolikost te bogatu geološku i kulturno-tradicijsku baštinu. Značaj ovog područja predstavlja veliki broj ugroženih životinjskih i biljnih vrsta, rijetke poplavne šume, riječni otoci, te šljunčane i pješčane obale rijeka, uz koja se nalaze gnjezdilišta ugroženih ptica: orla štekavca, crne rode, male čigre i drugih. Prostor ovog prvog hrvatskog prekograničnog rezervata biosfere obuhvaća u našoj zemlji čitave tokove rijeke Mure i Drave koji su zaštićeni u kategoriji regionalnog parka, rijeku Dunav te Park prirode Kopački rit. Proteže se kroz 6 sjevernih županija (Međimurska, Varaždinska, Koprivničko-križevačka, Virovitičko- podravska, Osječko-baranjska i Vukovarsko-srijemska županija) na površini od 395 860,7 ha, U Mađarskoj također, obuhvaća prostore uz Muru, Dravu i Dunav, a uključuje mađarska područja Natura 2000 i nacionalni park Dunav – Drava.