It is being celebrated today World Wetlands Day which are essential for mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity. They are the basis of a sustainable future for people and nature.
Wetlands were once considered wet and smelly areas that needed to be drained in order to obtain fertile land. But today it is different, because awareness has developed of how important wetlands are. Among other things, these areas help neutralize various toxins, drain water reserves and control floods. And let's not forget: if you want to visit a place inhabited by birds, invertebrates, fish and insects, swamps are an ideal place, because they are a real paradise for many animal species.
Below is a list of well-known wetlands in Croatia that are on the list of protected sites under the Ramsar Convention and are of great importance for the environment.
Lonjsko polje includes a swampy area where the rivers Sava, Kupa, Una, Strug and Lonja meet. 16 species of amphibians live there, as well as pond turtles, white-eared turtles, spoonbills and other animal species, and it is especially interesting because of the large number of white storks, which outnumber the inhabitants of the village of Čigoč.
The pastures in the area of Lonjsko polje are the last examples of a cultural landscape that once spread throughout Central Europe until the end of the 19th century. This is where we find the highest concentration of autochthonous breeds - Croatian posavac, Turopolska pig and Slavonian-Srijem gray cattle.
The oldest Croatian nature park is another famous wetland area - Kopački rit, which is located in the northeastern part of Croatia, between the Danube and Drava rivers. Kopački rit is known for its zoological reserve, which is home to a population of buzzard eagles, wild ducks and beautiful crows.
The greatest importance of Kopački rit is in the large number of birds. to date, 293 species of birds have been recorded there. Among mammals, you can meet wild boar, European beaver, European otter and magnificent red deer here.
In the central part of Croatia in the valley of the river Kupa there is another swamp - Black Mlaka. This special ornithological reserve is a wetland area where many plant and animal species live. The area has been preserved in almost its original form. Crna Mlaka is a large flat wooded expanse rich in oak groves. Due to its unique hydrographic and vegetation characteristics and the wealth of bird species, it is of exceptional European and world value. During most of the year, protected and rare birds such as the bald eagle, cormorant, black stork, grebe, heron and various types of ducks stay here. Ornithologists have noticed as many as 230 species of birds on Crna Mlaka.
In Crna Mlaka, we also find plant communities of water lilies and water lilies, common oak and common hornbeam, and a large number of different types of plants such as hellebore and red lily. In addition, there are numerous types of fish that are bred in ponds. The mentioned ponds are one of the richest otter habitats in Europe, which is also the rarest and most endangered mammal in our climate.
Neretva Delta it is located in the very south and is a marshy area where the remains of Mediterranean marshes are located. Today, the area is largely drained for agricultural production. Once upon a time, in that area one could see vast expanses overgrown with aquatic plants and with the presence of many different species of birds and fish. The Neretva Delta is especially important for birds, as it serves as a resting place for them during their migration to Africa, but also as a wintering place for groups from North-Eastern and Central Europe.
The Neretva estuary with shallows and shoals is most important for the migration of terns, terns and seagulls. Marsh areas with reeds are important for the migration and wintering of ducks and coots. In the reserve there is also a small colony of little herons and a group of little crows, which are an endangered species in our country.
Lake Vrana is the largest natural lake in Croatia. The northwestern part of the lake has been declared a special ornithological reserve of almost intact natural habitats of waterfowl, a rare wetland system, great biodiversity, and exceptional scientific and ecological value. As such, it is included in the list of important ornithological areas in Europe, and since 2013 it has been a protected wetland area. About 235 species of birds have been recorded in that area so far, of which 102 are nesting birds. For the others, the lake serves as a resting place when moving or as a wintering place. According to estimates, between 20.000 and 200.000 birds stay there every day during the autumn migration.
Velebit Nature Park
Crets, on the other hand, are special water habitats. Although there is a small number of species and a small area, specific vegetation grows in them, which is quite different from the rest of the vegetation in Croatia. Therefore, we find some of the very rare species in the Croatian flora on them.
In the area of the Nature Park Velebit there are three creta. In terms of area, the largest cret is near Klepina Duliba, a special reserve of forest vegetation. Crets are characterized by specific vegetation and on them we find some very rare plant species. Among them is Carex lepidocarpa (yellow sedge), which is on the list of endangered and strictly protected species.
Due to climate change and human influence, these wet natural habitats continue to deteriorate and slowly disappear. However, in order to end this article on a more optimistic note, the world organization for nature protection - WWF - took care.
Five million euros for the revitalization of four areas in the European Amazon
The revitalization of rivers is the main theme of this year's World Wetland Day, which has been celebrated on this day since 1971. And it is precisely the revitalization of certain river areas in The European Amazon a result that the world organization for nature protection WWF wants to achieve through its new project, the value of which is almost five million euros.
– Through the five-year project 'Revitalization of the European Amazon', which is carried out in the area of the five-state UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, different ecosystems will be revitalized in four locations, expires Ivana Korn Varga from WWF Adria.
In Croatia, a branch will be connected on the Drava River, near the mouth of the Mura River, which will increase the retention area during larger water waves. This will allow the flow of water again at the popular bathing area near the municipality of Legrad. In the Kopački rit Nature Park, the backwater will be cleaned and thus connect the Danube with Kopački jezero, the largest stagnant body of water in the park.
In addition to Croatia, wet meadows along the Mura River in Slovenia and in the Special Nature Reserve of the Upper Danube in Serbia will be revitalized.