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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Croatia / Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Croatia)

Country profile - Drivers and impacts (Croatia)

SOER Country profile from Croatia
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011


Figure 6. Population density by county according to the 2001 Census

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Figure 6. Population density by county according to the 2001 Census
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Figure 7. Structure of land use and allocation in Croatia

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Figure 7. Structure of land use and allocation in Croatia
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Social pressures are most prominent in the cities (Figure 6), due to the evident and continuous trend of urban population growth and in the coastal area especially during the summer season. The total urbanised area of towns and settlements continues to grow due to contemporary lifestyle, independently of the trend in population figures and economic development. A process of launching Physical Plans for the counties and the City of Zagreb started upon coming into force of the two basic documents: 1997 Physical Planning Strategy for the Republic of Croatia and the 1999 Physical Planning Programme. Additionally, the planning of areas with special features comprising eight national parks, ten nature parks and the Croatian Adriatic area, aiming primarily at defining the conditions and methods of comprehensive protection and sustainable exploitation of these areas, were also initiated with those documents.  In the 2001-2003 period physical plans were approved at the county level for all 20 counties and the City of Zagreb in coordination with the Physical Planning Strategy and Programme. Growing pressures in towns are also related to traffic, primarily due to continuous growth in number of vehicles for both public and individual transport  and limited capacities for traffic infrastructure adaptation. Energy consumption in households and the service sector is responsible for 40% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission [12]. Wastewater treatment coverage is 28% of the population [13]. Unsolved problems in the sector of waste management are now being systematically addressed by introducing  and developing relevant waste management infrastructure. Activities related to waste management, water resources protection, improvement of water supply and integrated waste-water management are defined as country’s strategic priorities for the period until 2013 [14].


Economic pressures on the environment come from all the sectors of the economy, the key sectors being: energy, transport, industry, agriculture and tourism [15].


Energy-related environmental pressures include emissions, emission allowance transfers, waste and the use of fossil fuels. In 2008 the Energy sector was responsible for 72.6% of the total national GHG emission (expressed as CO2 eq.) [16].


Industry-related environmental pressures are primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, wastewater and industrial waste in general.  About 30% of industrial wastewater is discharged directly with some or non pre-treatment, while the remaining quantities are treated in independent industrial wastewater treatment plants to a level adequate for discharge. The main sources of pollutant emissions into air are combustion processes, mainly from large stationary sources – five thermal power plants and three refineries and from transport sector as well [14].

Industrial processes are responsible for approximately 13% of total GHG emissions, depending on the year [16]. There has been a slight reduction in GHG emission of 1.6% in 2008 compared to 1990 [16].

Acknowledging the fact of the continuous growth of chemicals use, the relevant National Strategy of Chemical Safety (Official Gazette 56/08), adopted in 2008, focuses on establishing conditions for resolving the issues of safe chemicals management


According to the CLC 2006, agricultural land accounts for 40.4%, and forest land for 46.8% of the total land surface of Croatia (Figure 7) [10]. It has been calculated that, in 2007, this sector was responsible for approximately 10.5% of the total national GHG emissions. GHG emissions from the Agricultural sector also show a falling trend. In 2008, the emissions were 22.76% lower than in 1990 [16]. Agriculture is the main source of ammonia (NH3) emissions – 89% in 2005 [17]. Taking this into account, all emission reduction measures regarding NH3 are targeting this sector [18].


Transport is a source of considerable environmental pressure through the emission of harmful substances into the air. In 2008, the share of road transport in particulate (TSP) emissions was 6.99%, and in GHG emissions 19.8% [8, 16]. The adverse impact of transport is manifested through increased noise, adverse impact on natural habitats and an increased number of traffic accidents with harmful consequences for the environment. The building of road infrastructure was intensified in the past decade, improving the accessibility and connectedness of a large number of settlements and parts of settlements with bigger economic centres. This has contributed to the development of the transport system, and in particular passenger transport. Implementation of plans for the sustainable development of ports, wherever possible, have been undertaken resulting in relocation of ports away from town centres (example: Gaženica Port, near the City of Zadar) [2].


Tourism, indicating a continuous growth,  is additional source of environmental pressures. An increasing trend of area occupied by marinas recorded until 2006 has been stopped. The main tourism pressure occurs at the coastal region and islands during a relatively short summer season (June through September). On the other hand tourists become increasingly sensitive to environment protection and preservation; the local population and authorities  start to recognise and appreciate the values of preserved environment, constantly undertaking and upgrading adequate measures primarily in waste management and wastewater treatment. Nautical tourism causes increasing pressure on the marine environment as well. However, the latest document of that kind - Nautical Tourism Development Strategy for the period 2009-2019 was introduced and adopted in 2008, stressing development based on carrying capacity of the area, a moderate annual growth rate of new accommodation capacity and the principle of sustainable regional development, coordinated with the development of independent and other supporting infrastructure. This sets the main principle for sustainable development of nautical tourism that assumes a compromise between the need to preserve the natural setting and the need for economic development [2].


Generally speaking, the Croatian coast has kept the status of one of the best-preserved parts of the Mediterranean since its marine environment loads are still not alarming [10].


Waste management, is one of the main concerns or priorities among environmental issues. Despite all the problems accumulated in the past, such as numerous inadequate disposal sites, inadequate capacities of waste treatment facilities, there have been a significant positive development indicated lately. Almost all operating inadequate landfills are undergoing remediation or closure and construction of modern county waste management centres is in preparation. Likewise, in the past few years, facilities have been built and developed for the management/recycling of special categories of waste such as tyres, end-of-life vehicles, and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).


The Mine Suspected Areas (MSA), as consequence of operations during the Homeland War, currently cover 950 km2. MSAs exist in 12 counties, that is, 111 cities and municipalities are affected by up to 110,000 mines and a large amount of unexploded ammunition, particularly in the area of military operations during the war. Pursuant to the provisions of the Humanitarian Mine Clearance Act (Official Gazette 153/05), MSAs are divided into mine clearance areas and search areas – 25% of MSAs are foreseen for clearance, and 75% for searching [20].


Geographic coverage


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