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You are here: Home / News / Biodiversity-rich Croatia becomes 33rd full EEA member country

Biodiversity-rich Croatia becomes 33rd full EEA member country

As Croatia joins the European Union, it also becomes a full member of the European Environment Agency (EEA) on July 1, 2013. On this landmark day, the EEA takes a look at the country’s environment.

 Image © Jimmy Harris

We look forward to even closer cooperation with Croatia as a full EEA member country. I expect the country’s unique natural environment will enrich environmental debates in the EU.

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

Many Europeans know Croatia for its crystal clear seas and white beaches, but the country’s biodiversity is also an important part of Europe’s environment. The country is rich in wildlife due to its geographical position at the crossroads of several bio-geographical regions and its unique ecological, climatic and physical conditions.

Habitats in Croatia include mountains, forests and a coastline with over a thousand islands and islets in the Adriatic. The country is a migratory route for sea turtles and many kinds of birds. It also has one of the highest diversity of plants of all European countries, and is home to many endangered species.

Two thirds of Croatia’s area is land and one third is sea. Almost half of the land area is covered by forest, of which 95 % is largely natural in structure, providing habitats for many types of wildlife.

Environmental pressures

Croatia has a population of 4.3 million, according to 2011 statistics. Almost two thirds of the population live in urban areas, with approximately 800 000 people in Zagreb, the capital.

As with most European countries, environmental pressures come from many different areas. Tourism is particularly important for Croatia, but it also puts pressure on the environment - for example, sailing boats, cruise ships and cargo ships sometimes pollute the sea. Nonetheless, the Croatian coast is one of the best-preserved parts of the Mediterranean, with relatively low pollution loads.

Bathing sites in Croatia were ranked above those of most other EU Member States – 95 % of swimming beaches, lakes and rivers were rated as excellent in 2012, a proportion which was only surpassed by three other countries. Only three of Croatia’s 919 bathing water sites had poor quality water.

Waste management is one area which requires more work. Despite many improvements in the last decade, further efforts are needed to meet the objectives of EU legislation and waste management strategies.

Croatia’s greenhouse gas emissions are below the country’s target under the Kyoto Protocol, according to the most recent data. Average emissions between 2008 and 2011 were currently 6.5% below the base year, so it seems the country will significantly exceed the agreed 5% reduction objective for the years 2008-2012. In addition, Croatia has been participating in the EU Emissions Trading System since 1 January 2013.

Croatia and the EEA

“In common with several other countries before it, Croatia has cooperated with the EEA for many years before joining the EU,” EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. “We look forward to even closer cooperation with Croatia as a full EEA member country. I expect the country’s unique natural environment will enrich environmental debates in the EU.”

Since 2003, Croatia has participated in Eionet (European Environment Information and Observation Network) and EEA programmes and activities as a cooperating country, providing data and information to the EEA. For example, data on air quality is sent to EEA, including near-real time data which is sent every hour from some monitoring stations. Croatian authorities provided information for a recent environmental indicator report covering the West Balkans.

At the same time, Croatia has been part of a regional EEA/West Balkans Programme, sharing experience between countries. As part of efforts to improve environmental policy, the Mediterranean country has established an operational Environment Information System, organised according to SEIS principles.

Croatia is now the 28th EU Member State, and the 33rd EEA member country.

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