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Croatia

Nature protection and biodiversity (Croatia)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

Croatia is one of the richest European countries in terms of biodiversity because of its geographical position at the crossroads of several biogeographical regions and its characteristic ecological, climate and geomorphological conditions. These conditions in combination with various local traditions in the use of space, which have developed as a result of economic and historical circumstances, have also contributed to an exceptionally rich diversity of the landscape. Because of their particular value, protected areas (8.54 % of the total territory including the territorial sea) form the backbone of the protection of biological and landscape diversity as a whole and represent the key points of the ecological network [1].

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Figures

Figure 1. Ecological network of the Republic of Croatia

Data source
This figure has no data source. For further information contact  EEA enquiry service.

Figure 1. Ecological network of the Republic of Croatia
Fullscreen image Original link

The great diversity of terrestrial, marine and underground habitats has resulted in a wealth of species and subspecies with a high number of endemics. The number of known taxa (species and subspecies) in Croatia is 38,268, and they are believed to actually number between 50,000 and 100,000.

 

Table 1. Number of known and endemic taxa in Croatia

 Group

Total number of known taxa

Number of endemic taxa

% of endemic taxa

Fungi

4,500

0

0.00

Lichen

1019

0

0.00

Plants

8,871

523

5.90

Terrestrial invertebrates

15,230

352

2.31

Freshwater invertebrates

1,850

171

9.24

Marine invertebrates

5,655

0

0.00

Freshwater fishes

152

17

12.00

Sea fishes

442

6

1.36

Amphibians

20

7

35.00

Reptiles

41

9

21.95

Nesting birds/total

233/387

0

0.00

Mammals

101

5

4.95

Total

38,268

1090

2.85

         Source: State Institute for Nature Protection

Croatia is home to a considerable part of the populations of many species endangered at the European level. Based on the earlier estimate of the level of threat to the analysed plant, fungal and animal groups (vertebrates, butterflies, dragonflies, underground fauna, corals, ground beetles, stoneflies, vascular flora, lichen and fungi) there are 2,235 endangered taxa on the red list. The most highly threatened are freshwater fish, then reptiles, amphibians, dragonflies and birds [1].

Ecological network in Croatia covers 47 % of land and 39 % of sea, as well as two ecological corridors: a corridor for marine turtles and the Palagruža–Lastovo–Pelješac corridor (an area important for bird migration) and at same time represents a foundation for the EU ecological network NATURA 2000 [1].

 Protected native domesticated taxa are plant varieties or animal breeds that have evolved as a result of traditional breeding and form part of the Croatian natural heritage. Estimates have been made of threats to native breeds (at national level and according to the FAO classification), for which there is a central register, while a similar system has not been established for ancient plant varieties and estimates are made randomly. According to the criteria set by the Ordinance on the Procedure for Recognition of New Breeds, Strains and Hybrids and the Lists of Native and Protected Breeds, there are 26 native breeds of domesticed animals.

 

Table 2. State of populations of Croatian breeds                        

BREED

TOTAL NUMBER (*estimate)

STATUS

TREND

HORSES

MEĐIMURJE HORSE

37

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

CROATIAN POSAVAC HORSE

 

4,350

POTENTIALLY ENDANGERED

LIPIZZANER

 

1,224

POTENTIALLY ENDANGERED

CROATIAN COLD  BLOOD HORSE

5,334

POTENTIALLY ENDANGERED

DONKEYS:

North Adriatic donkey

Istrian donkey

Littoral Dinaric donkey

1,839

 

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

CATTLE

ISTRIAN CATTLE

789

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

SLAVONIAN SYRMIAN PODOLIAN CATTLE

 

171

 

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

BUSHA CATTLE

269

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

SHEEP AND GOATS

ISTRIAN PRAMENKA SHEEP

 

2,261

NOT ENDANGERED

RUDA (DUBROVNIK) SHEEP

491

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

PAG ISLAND SHEEP

30,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

CRES ISLAND SHEEP

 

15,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

LIKA PRAMENKA SHEEP

30,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

DALMATIAN PRAMENKA SHEEP

200,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

TZIGAI SHEEP

3,000*

POTENTIALLY ENDANGERED

KRK ISLAND SHEEP

18,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

RAB ISLAND SHEEP

6,500*

NOT ENDANGERED

CROATIAN WHITE GOAT

4,000*

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

CROATIAN SPOTTED GOAT

25,000*

NOT ENDANGERED

PIGS

TUROPOLJE PIG

173

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED

BLACK SLAVONIAN PIG

1,189

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

POULTRY

ZAGORJE TURKEY

2,681

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

CROATIAN HEN

396

HIGHLY ENDANGERED

 

HONEYBEES

 

Carnolian bee (Apis mellifera carnica) (thousands of hives)

310

NOT ENDANGERED

                                                                  Source: Croatian Agricultural Agency 

 

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Figures

Figure 2. Number of known Caulerpa racemosa and Caulerpa taxifolia sites in Croatia

Data source
This figure has no data source. For further information contact  EEA enquiry service.

Figure 2. Number of known Caulerpa racemosa and Caulerpa taxifolia sites in Croatia
Fullscreen image Original link

Habitat degradation and fragmentation

The most serious threat to wild species in Croatia is degradation and loss of habitats, partly as a consequence of conversion of natural habitats into building or agricultural land, or as a consequence of construction of roads and other communications, which frequently causes habitat fragmentation. All types of infrastructure - rail, roads and waterways - affect the animal habitats they are routed through. Large carnivores, which need vast living space, are particularly sensitive to construction of large road projects. To ensure serviceability of highways, green bridges are built above tunnels and under viaducts. It has to be underlined that Croatia is one of first European countries which started construction of the green bridges and offered practical solutions to the problems arising from the road impact on wild animals, particularly large carnivores. The Ordinance on Green Bridges stipulates the protection measures, determines institutions in charge and method of maintenance of the wild animal crossings over public roads, other roads and other structures crossing over known wild animals migration routes [2].

 

Invasive alien species

 A number of invasive species found in Croatia is increasing. The oldest example of the introduction of a alien invasive species, dating back to 1910, is the introduction of 11 specimens of Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus auropunctatus) into the Island of Mljet. During last century, 16 alien species of fish were introduced into rivers and lakes, which caused great damage to the indigenous ichthyofauna, especially affecting the rivers of the Adriatic Sea basin which harbour a large number of endemic fish species. The plant species Amorpha fruticosa is spreading unstoppably, covering forest fringes and floodplains of the lowland Croatia, creating big problems with the renewal of forest stands. Ambrosia artemisiifolia has spread through mine vegetation habitats throughout Croatia and is known as one of the principal European allergens. The invasive green algae Caulerpa taxifolia and Caulerpa racemosa are the most thoroughly researched invasive species in Croatia so far. These species cause a change in ecological conditions and disappearance of habitats for indigenous species [1]. Established invasive alien species present serious threat to native wild species (competition for food, habitats etc.) [3].

 

 

 

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

The biological, landscape and geological diversity is an essential Croatian asset and the major resource for future development. Croatia's aim is to preserve and improve the existing biological and landscape diversity of the country, and to attempt to recover, where possible and justified, some of the lost taxa and habitats. All activities needed for full transposition and implementation of the EU directives and regulations that regulate protection of wild taxa and natural habitats shall be pursued. The priorities for the future are firmly linked to the process of the Croatia's accession to the European Union. As regards nature protection, the priorities are particularly related to full harmonisation of legislation, including setting up of implementation mechanisms and Croatian contribution to the EU ecological network NATURA 2000 [1].

Protection and conservation of biological diversity, considering all the businesses that use or impact the biological assets, shall be accomplished by implementation of the strategic guidelines and objectives detailed in the Strategy [3].

 

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 22 Dec 2010

There has been a visible progress in recent years in implementation of general aims such as comprehensive inventorisation, mapping, threat estimates, the establishment of the National Biodiversity Monitoring System and the preparation and implementation of action plans for the protection of biodiversity.

 A map of habitats has been completed with additional field data and results of detailed habitat mapping of individual parks. The ecological network GIS database has been created, as well as the GIS database for the Croatian proposal of the NATURA 2000 network which has been continually updated with new field data and research and investigation results. The GIS database has been prepared on protected natural values nature in Croatia, and the PAMS database (designated areas database) created within the Nature Protection Information System. The activities related to setting up of the National Biodiversity Monitoring System are continuing through development of standardised manuals for systematic and uniform collecting of data and monitoring of flora, habitats and particular groups of fauna. Comprehensive activities on publishing of red books and preparation of red lists are also continued. The red books have been published on mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, freshwater fish, sea fish, fungi and dragonflies, and red lists compiled on corals, lichen, ground beetles and stoneflies. A progress has been made in development of the protected area management plans.

The Nature Protection Act was amended in 2008 to incorporate provisions of all relevant international conventions and EU directives, and the earlier nature protection frame was enlarged with regard to the protected natural values, aiming at preservation of the overall biological and landscape diversity [4]. Major progress was made in the recent years as regards incorporation of the nature protection measures into the documents issued by the sectors of forestry, hunting, spatial planning, and especially by establishing the Croatian ecological network and assuming responsibilities under the Regulation on Proclamation on the Ecological Network and Ordinance  on the Apropriate Assessment of  the Impact of Plans, Programs and Projects on the Ecological Network [5].

 

References:

[1] Draft Report on the State of the Environment in the Republic of Croatia, Croatian Environment Agency

[2] Ordinance on Wildlife Crossings (Official Gazette 5/07)

[3] Strategy and Action Plan for the Protection of Biological and Landscape Diversity of the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette 143/08)

[4] Nature Protection Act (Official Gazette 70/05, 139/08)

[5] Ordinance  on the Apropriate Assessment of  the Impact of Plans, Programs and Projects on the Ecological Network (Official Gazette 118/09)

 

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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