Croatia country briefing - The European environment — state and outlook 2015

Briefing Published 18 Feb 2015 Last modified 11 May 2020
6 min read
Photo: © Kamil Porembiński

Main themes and sectors addressed in the national State of Environment report

Pursuant to the Environmental Protection Act, the State of the Environment Report[1][2] is produced by the Croatian Environment Agency[3] every four years. The Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection submits the report to the Government and the Government forwards it to the Parliament. It is an indicator-based report[4] aimed at monitoring the objectives of the Environmental Strategy and Action Plan. 

The report comprises three parts:

  • Environmental Components (Air, Climate Change, Water, Sea, Soil, Biodiversity, and Environment and Health)
  • Sectoral Impacts (Area and Population, Energy, Industry, Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Hunting, Transport, Tourism, Chemicals, and Waste Management)
  • General Environmental Protection Issues (Legislative and institutional framework, Policy implementation and instruments, Environmental Inspection, Investments, Education)

The report provides conclusions and recommendations to decision-makers, and provides information on the state of the environment to professionals and the general public.

Key findings of the State of Environment report 

Emissions of major pollutants to the air are showing a decreasing trend[5]. In urban areas, the air is mostly clean or only slightly polluted (category one). But in some urban areas, it is moderately or overly polluted due to air pollution with particles of PM10, NOx and ground-level ozone. In regional terms, Croatia is in an unfavorable situation because trans-boundary pollution contributes to problems with eutrophication and ground-level ozone.

Croatia has achieved the target set by the Kyoto Protocol, with a trend of reduction in emissions of GHGs. The share of renewable energy in gross final total energy consumption is 20,2%.

The number of known taxa amounts to 40,000 and 3,984 of these have 'protected' or 'strictly protected' status. A total of 8.4% of Croatia's territory is under some category of nationally designated protection. The ecological network Natura 2000 includes 36.9% of Croatia's land territory and 16.6% of its territorial sea.

Losses in the public water supply system are significant (amounting to 48% in 2012). Although there are limitations in the surface-water monitoring system, the status of surface waters appears to be better in the Adriatic than in the Danube River Basin District[6]. Groundwater quality is good. 82% of Croatians have access to the public water supply system, and 46% have access to public sewage systems.

The ecological status of the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea is mostly of the highest quality (oligotrophic)[7]. According to the annual EEA report, the sea bathing water quality at Croatian beaches was rated as one of the best in Europe.

Fisheries are a significant element of the traditional lifestyle in the coastal areas and islands of Croatia. The state of the fish stocks in the open sea of the Adriatic, especially in the area around the island of Jabuka (a natural spawning area and nursery habitat of commercial fish stocks) and in the Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone (ZERP[8]) is unfavorable.

Croatian tourism is mostly seasonal, occurs in coastal counties (96%), and is continuously growing (in 2012, there were nearly 12 million visits and 63 million overnight stays). Each year protected areas (e.g. national parks, the Plitvice Lakes, Krka, and Kornati) attract more visitors. Cruising and nautical tourism are the fastest-growing types of tourism and require efforts for adequate management of the marine environment.  

In 2012, municipal waste amounted to 390 kg/per capita (below EU-27 averages)[9]. The share of the population with access to organized waste collection is 99%. Since 2006 there have been improvements in special category waste management, but for some categories (e.g. construction and biodegradable waste) there is still a need to ensure better management. Landfilling is still the prevailing type of waste treatment, although there has been an increase in separately collected and recovered fractions of municipal waste.

Main policy responses to key environmental challenges and concerns

The Air Quality Protection and Improvement Plan 2008-2011 has brought improvements in monitoring (e.g. 12 background stations were built). In 2013 the new air plan for the period 2013-2017 was adopted, which contained specific priority measures (e.g. strengthening the capacity of local and regional authorities to improve air quality, measures to reduce emissions of NOx, NH3 and PM2,5, etc). Since reducing air pollution greatly depends on reducing pollutant emissions in the other countries, especially neighbouring ones, Croatia is interested in successful international cooperation.

The Air Quality Protection and Improvement Plan 2008-2011, established the ETS in Croatia. Implementation of energy efficiency measures and of renewable energy projects conducted by the National Energy Efficiency Programmes is reducing GHG emissions and bringing significant energy and financial savings. However, measures for carbon capture and storage and for reducing emissions from transport have yet to be implemented. A low-carbon development strategy is currently in the drafting phase.

The main activities of nature protection were related to the preparation of Natura 2000. For that purpose, extensive research work was initiated, with a focus on inventorying biodiversity and establishing the framework for monitoring. The new Nature Protection Act was adopted in June 2013 while the Regulation on Ecological Networks was adopted in September 2013.

The Water Management Strategy gives the framework for sustainable water management and protection of water resources. One of its strategic objectives is reducing losses in the public water supply system. According to the requirements of the WFD, the Croatian River Basin Management Plan was adopted in 2013. In comparison to 2008 the total number of UWWT plants increased. A transitional period for the fulfilment of the UWWTD requirements ends in 2023. 

The Regulation for establishing a framework for protection of the marine environment, which assumes the obligations arising from the MSFD, was adopted. Activities for the establishment of a monitoring and observation system for ongoing assessment were carried out. Sea bathing-water quality is systematically monitored in accordance with the Bathing Water Directive.

Since tourism is most intense on the coast, measures to boost inland tourism have been introduced. Sensitive protected areas are subject to a special management approach. Considering the strong growth of nautical tourism, Croatia has opted for a more moderate development scenario and data indicate that this goal will be fulfilled.

Almost all commercially important fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea are in the category of "shared stocks" (exploited by the fleets of different countries). Given the negative trends in biomass, it is necessary to reach agreement in order to establish the long-term sustainable management and protection of resources in the Adriatic Sea. Croatia implements the common fisheries policy (Council Regulation 2371/2002).

In 2013, the new Act on Sustainable Waste Management (OG No. 94/13) was adopted, which should contribute to the further improvement of waste management practices in Croatia. This Act promotes the revision of existing ordinances regulating the management of specific waste categories, which will hopefully result in the faster achievement of certain goals and targets. Activities continue in areas such as the closing down and remediation of existing official landfills and illegal waste dumps, the rehabilitation of locations polluted by hazardous waste, and the construction of waste management centers.

Country specific issues

In order to conserve Croatia's natural resources and environment, in 2008 Croatia has adopted legislation to establish the foundations for a more comprehensive and detailed overview of impacts on the environment. The legislation covers a much broader range of activities and includes a greater number of pollutants (128). For many of these pollutants, the new concentration threshold is significantly lower than that prescribed by EU and UN regulations.

Furthermore, the Environmental Pollution Register[10] was established in 2009, and has continued to develop ever since. In 2012, the Croatian National Portal of the EPR[11] was published. Apart from giving a transparent overview of polluters and their locations, the release and transfer of pollutants, and the transfer of waste, the portal also provides a GIS browser service, i.e. it gives up-to-date online information on the spatial components of these phenomena and related information, with the possibility of making spatial analyses and reports.


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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