Sava floodplains Lonjsko Polje

The Green Heart of Croatia

© Kerstin Sauer
© Kerstin Sauer

EuroNatur campaigns to preserve the major lifelines in the natural world of Europe. Among these  are rivers such as the Sava – the most voluminous tributary of the Danube. Rising in the Eastern Alps it flows through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia till it flows into the Danube at Belgrade. The water meadows and riparian forests on the banks of the Sava are one of the most important resting places for migratory birds in Croatia.

On the Adriatic flyway Cranes, Ferruginous Ducks and European Buzzards fly across the Nature Park. When the river floods there are more than 20 000 waterfowl resting in these meadows. It is worth making a trip to see flocks of up to 400 spoonbills or Little Egrets, Black and White Storks and large numbers of White-tailed Eagles.

Not strengthening but weakening the area

At the beginning of the 70s this nature paradise was threatened with extinction: with the financial support of the UNO and the World Bank,  Yugoslavia implemented the Sava 2000 project-  a land reclamation programme that dried out 5000 square kilometres (or not far off 2000 square miles)  of wetlands, robbing innumerable small farmers of their common land grazing areas and handing the land over to combines. Up to that point the river Sava had regularly flooded an area of  7000 square kilometres – which is an area larger than the Danube delta or nearly six times the area of New York City!

Ever since its foundation in 1987 EuroNatur has been working to save the Sava floodplains  in Croatia and Serbia in a broad range of nature conservation projects. Achieving the designation of   Lonjsko Polje as a Nature Park was a first, important step.

Read more about the EuroNatur projects in the floodplains of the River Sava

“On the banks of the Sava: a riverscape in Croatia” film by Jens-Uwe Heins from the ARD series “Natur exklusiv”

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