Natural Heritage Gems

 How impressive is the natural heritage of the GreenWay Tour 2Parks regional destination may easily be illustrated by a single fact: out of 143,900 ha of a total area of our two cross-border local communities, our 2Parks comprise an area of about 49,485 ha. This is a good indication that the area in-between 2Parks proudly boasts equally impressive and valuable natural heritage.

GWT2P Water Phenomenon
Dear visitors, we have prepared this comparative view of our 2Parks to help you learn just how sensitive and fragile this systems are. We need your understanding and cooperation to protect them even better!

Natural Link Between 2Parks
Licka Pljesivica Massif

Although unjustly neglected and cruelly exploited in recent history, the magnificent massif of Licka Pljesivica, described for the first time in the year 1669, endowed with virgin forests, alpine vegetation, fossil finds and rich fauna, had attracted attention of many scientists and researchers in the past, including the Saxon king Friedrich August II.

Licka Pljesivica - natural gem!

Licka Pljesivica represents a natural link between our 2Parks; along its foot you hike or bike between our two national parks so, while there, take the opportunity and explore this beautiful massif as well.

The Plitvice Lakes National Parkone of the most impressive karst landscapes in the world, is nestled between the mountain slopes of Mala Kapela and Mount Pljesivica. In the immediate vicinity is the Una National Park, a prominent landscape in Europe with valuable karst formations and the hydrography of the river Una, sheltered by Mount Pljesivica and Osjecenica.

Licka Pljesivica Mountain is a valuable natural site, find more interesting info about it under Explore Local.

Acting together, we can preserve our planet's extraordinary natural heritage!
Join our Green Mission!

2Parks Phenomenon

Given the relatively small distance between our two national parks, 2Parks share many common elements, and certainly the most valuable element of the landscape and the common phenomenon is - water.

Plitvice Lakes NP Lake System

Although occupying only 1% of the Park’s overall area, the water represents the most valuable part of the landscape composed of a system of sixteen larger and a few smaller cascading lakes interlaced with rapids and waterfalls. The system is divided into Upper and Lower Lakes with numerous tributaries and have the chemical characteristics of typical mountain water.

Highly valuable and impressive, the lake ecosystem requires intensive monitoring efforts by the Park's expert service!!

Upper Lakes consists of 12 lakes of which the two largest ones are Lakes Proscansko and Kozjak. Lakes are separated by unique and extremely sensitive traventine barriers that change in a continuous biodynamic cycle.

The Lower Lakes make the system of four lakes formed in a canyon. The highest rocks in the canyon are 40 m high, and Lake Milanovac is surrounded by 20 m high rocks. Breathtaking views awaits you at the end of Lake Novakovic with 25 m high cascades.

Biodiversity worth protecting!

Dear visitor, your role in protecting world's natural heritage is crucial!
Please carefully review and follow all safety rules, signs and follow all staff instructions!

Una NP WaterCourses

Despite the fact that Una is located in the most sensitive karst terrain with less-developed river network, this wider regional area with rivers Una, Unac and Krka is one of the richest aquatic ecosystem hotspots in the Dinarides. Rivers of amazing bright emerald green color have main characteristics of mountain streams with waterfalls, cascades and travertine formations with still well preserved hydromorphology, which is rare in Europe. Una's travertine river bed is very long212 km, with beautiful natural attractions featuring caves, islands, barriers, and waterfalls.

Una's Source 
The source is a powerful karst spring located in a magnificent 150 m-high canyon in the Republic of Croatia, municipality of Gračac, at an altitude of about 450 m on the northeastern side of the Stražbenica Hill. Una's source, a rocky lakelet of the characteristic blue-green colour surrounded by large limestone rocks, has been protected as a hydrological monument of nature since 1968.

Tufa Formation

A highly complex and sensitive process of tufa (Cratoneurion) deposition can be attributed to the "magic" combination of dissolved limestone, blue-green algae, diatom algae, and various types of bacteria as well as unicellular and multicellular organisms.

The natural process of tufa deposition is highly sensitive to seemingly small changes in the power of hydrogen (pH). Although nutrients occur naturally in lakes and rivers, due to human activities the process of nutrient saturation dangerously accelerates!!

Lakes and rivers are naturally rich in nutrients, but natural systems have established balances between the production and consumption of nutrients. Unfortunately, due to human activities (human sewage, municipal wastewater, domestic and animal wastes, chemical fertilizers) the process of nutrient saturation considerably accelerates.

As a result, we have bursting vegetation, overgrown lake shores, and consequently reduced water flow that have a highly negative impact on natural process of tufa deposition, with the resulting change in the barrier static - to the point of its collapse!!

Negative impacts of human activities on the natural environment, including the devastating effects of mass tourism, are the greatest threat to this incredible process of continuous creation of nature. Let's make a positive change together by becoming more informed!

The beauty and fragility of karst systems!

Our 2Parks are adorned with many incredibly beautiful tufa formations, many of which are already heavily threatened. Please access this areas with the utmost caution, obey all warnings, directions and instructions!! Thank you!

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH

It is important to recall that national parks have the primary responsibility to protect and conserve the nature and to promote scientific research and education. We wish to draw your attention to the importance of this demanding work of the institutions.

History of scientific research

Plitvice Lakes National Park 
Established in 1949, the area of the largest and oldest national park in the Republic of Croatia has a long history of scientific research - more than 160 years. The „heart“of the Park's research activities is located in the Scientific Expert Center "Dr. Ivo Pevalek". Research costs are a mandatory part of the annual financial plan.

The Financial Plan, as well as the annual Work Plan and Management Plan are all publicly available documents. All main research activities are performed by the Park's professionals.

Education is certainly one of the most important tasks of national parks!

The young of today are the future scientists, ecologists, directors of national parks and socially responsible entrepreneurs. The work with the young, especially from the surrounding local communities, is extremely important for the future of protected areas.

Activities with students at the Ivo Pevalek Centre
The first extensive study at the beginning of the 19th century was prompted by the impressive plant species richness and diversity of the Plitvice Lakes area.

Detailed research, conducted by academician Ph.D. Ivo Pevalek in 1924 and in 1936, were crucial to declare Plitvice Lakes a national park.

The study by Prof Pevalek have proved that fresh-water algae and moss play a very important role in the creation of tufa and the decisive influence that tufa and tufa-forming plants have on the structure and form, or morphology, of the lakes.

Among numerous studies, the one about the flora of higher plants carried out by scientists Šegelj and Krga in 1984, have proved Plitvice Lakes to be a unique phenomenon in terms of the richness and diversity of these plant species.
More hereHistorical overview

Scientists and ecologists in action!Scientists and ecologists in action!

Una National Park
Established in 2008, the Una National Park is just embarking on their independent scientific and research activities. The annual Financial Plan and Work Plan are not yet publicly available documents. Funding for their budget comes from ticket sales, the state budget, and partly from national and international funds.

The Procurement Plan became publicly available for the first time in 2018; accessible to the citizens for objective analysis and review.

So far, only one out of five important services that carry out the tasks of protection and research has been set up - the Supervisory Service in 2016.

For these reasons, and the lack of funds, research activity has been hampered. All currently available scientific data has been collected from various sources and neighbouring countries and published in the publicly available Management Plan issued by the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism in 2011.

Ongoing Scientific Research

Plitvice Lakes National Park
In collaboration with the universities of Zagreb and Rijeka, Park is currently conducting four (4) scientific researches:

  • Hydrodynamic modelling of the Plitvice Lakes system - project leader Prof. Zvjezdana Bencetić Klaić, DSc;
  • Flora and the vegetation of mosses and vascular plants of the tufa barriers of Plitvice Lakes - project leader Prof. Antun Alegro, DSc;
  • Sedimentology, stratigraphy and structural and geological traits of the Plitvice Lakes - project leader Prof. Borna Lužar Oberitera, DSc;
  • Monitoring of morphological changes of the course of the Korana River - project leader, docent Igor Ružić, DSc.

More here: Scientific research

The Park's Expert Service is currently carrying out three (3) monitoring sessions:

  • Monitoring of indicators of water quality, eutrophication and the tufa-building process;
  • Monitoring hydrological indicators;
  • National water quality monitoring.

More here: Monitoring

Forest Ecosystem

Una National Park
At the moment there is no ongoing scientific research projects or monitoring sessions. As a relatively young public institution, Una fights with numerous obstacles that are mainly related to financial, administrative and staff related issues.

All this issues strongly influence realization of complex scientific research projects that are based on relevant scientific research methods, have a clearly highlighted topic, the hypothesis, goals and appointed research scientists who are responsible for designing, undertaking, analysing and presenting survey results.

The last major systematic study of three large carnivores (bears, lynx and wolves) „Divljina i život zvijeri NP Una“ began in 2012 in collaboration with renowned experts Prof. Đuro Huber, DSc and Prof. Josip Kusak, DSc from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine University of Zagreb, Croatia and lasted until the end of 2014.

While awaiting the start of their own research activities, the Park participates in a couple of international projects of a wider spectrum to help alleviate the current lack of crucially important scientific research, including archaeological research and conservation works on several important immovable cultural heritage sites.

As stated in the Management Plan, there is virtually no data present regarding vertebrate fauna of the upstream area of the river; therefore, it is impossible to evaluate the state of ecosystems and carry out precise comparative statistical analysis. Likewise, it is impossible to carry out monitoring activities without previous detailed research of the vertebrate fauna, as well as the research of the overall biodiversity of the area.

Besides a variety of administrative and financial difficulties, one of the biggest reasons by far for such situation was the loss of abundant documentation in the horrible armed aggression in the 1990s

For the best interest of this beautiful natural area, we hope that things would soon change for the better in the field of scientific research and monitoring! 

Dear visitors, you make a significant contribution to the scientific work with your purchased ticket! Thank you!

Una CanyonUna Canyon

NATURAL VALUES of 2PARKS

Geology & Hydrology

Plitvice Lakes National Park
The geological history of the Park is very long, with various rock formations. In 1979, it was among the first natural sites in the world to be registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List by virtue of its karst hydrography phenomenon. Plitvice Lakes belong to the Dinaric mountain system and share its geomorphological position with Una.

Dolomite rocks found here are from the Triassic geologic period - between 245 and 202 million years old!!

Active travertine barriers you stroll by have been in a continuous and complex process of creation between 6,000 and 7,000 years!!

But these are not the oldest deposits discovered at the Plitvice Lakes. The oldest ones date back to the last ice age!

Within the last ice age there were four main cold stages called glacials or glacial periods (from old to young: Günz, Mindel, Riss, and Wϋrm, named after rivers and the lake Wϋrm in the Alps in west-central Europe) and interglacials (shorter and warmer geological intervals that separated main glacials).

Scientific dating have determined that the ancient barriers at the Plitvice Lakes or palaeo-barriers (palaeo - from ancient greek palaiós: old, ancient) range in age from 250,000 to 300,000 years old (Mindel-Riss interglacial interval) and 90,000 – 130,000 years old (Riss – Wϋrm interglacial interval)!

Una National Park
Una is also proven to have a long geological history, it shares its geomorphological position with the neighbouring Park, and just like the Plitvice Lakes belongs to the Dinaric mountain system.

Although Una stll awaits detailed scientific study, current data from the "Management Plan" suggests remarkable age of Una deposits:

The relative age of travertine formations in the Park range in age from 3,000 (active) up to 250,000 - 300,000 years old (palaeo)!

Una, the greatest natural value of the Park, has valuable relief forms formed by tufa deposition - islands, barriers, caves, and cones.

Only human activities threaten these beautiful ecosystems!

It is important to know that Una's flow is weakened due to a small number of tributaries, which is why the river and its protection is the highest priority of the Park. The Management Plan foresees that there should be at least 6 modern hydrological measuring stations - for the moment there are only 3. New stations should have automatic data feeds and collate precise data concerning water level, temperature, volumetric flow rate, and water quality. 

The Annual Procurement Plan for 2018 provided purchase of one (1) water quality monitoring buoy within the EcoSustain project.

River water quality depends strongly on a stable flow state and the ecological purity of the river basin - right where a negative human impact is extremely high.

Negative impacts of human activities on the environment have especially severe consequences on karst ecosystems - both rivers and groundwater!

The biggest threats to these karstic areas are the discharge of inefficiently treated wastewater directly into waterways, the use of numerous caves and pits for waste disposal, and intensive agriculture which causes groundwater contamination with pesticides.

Dear visitors, your role in nature protection and safeguarding of rivers and lakes is also extremely important!
Stay alert and follow all park rules!

Diversity Matters!!
Habitat Diversity

The value of 2Parks' natural heritage is impressive, but also threatened, for example, there are 43 different habitat types in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, of which 21 belong to the category of rare and threatened habitat types.

Worth mentioning here is the most  diverse vegetation on tufa barriers in the Una National Park - 42 species of plants (25 species of algae and 17 species of moss) that make the tufa barrier habitats considerably different from other freshwater habitats.

Although numerous habitats still await research in the Una National Park, we already know they are very diverse due to the soil structure, terrain configuration of varying elevations and variety of flora.

Let's browse through our habitats!

Forests

Beautiful forests cover about one-third of Earth's total acreage and are of extreme importance in many ways.

Forests provide a high percentage of freshwater globally, prevent soil erosion and have a major impact on stable global climatic and hydrologic conditions.

Today mostly endemic, but still present in our area and other southern parts of Europe, are the so-called Illyrian species, indigenous Dinaric species that managed to survive the last Ice Age.

Plitvice Lakes National Park
Forests presently cover about 75% of the Park, everything from bushes, shrubs to old-growth forests, also termed virgin forests, primary forests or primeval forest.

Areas of exceptional natural value under special protection are:

1. "Čorkova uvala" Virgin Forest, protected as a special reserve of forest vegetation since 1965 - represents the most beautiful primeval forest of the Dinaric Alps.

Virgin forest literally means an old forest, a forest that was fortunate enough to grow and develop exclusively under natural conditions, without or almost no human influence.
Čorkova UvalaČorkova Uvala Virgin Forest

2. „Skupina Tisa“, the Taxus baccata group (Yew trees) in Sertic Poljana was protected as a monument of horticultural architecture since 1962 and completely destroyed in the Homeland War in the 1990’s - cut out and taken into the unknown by the aggressor.

The extent of this ecocide is best understood when we find out that a yew tree (a sacred, mythical tree) has survived the great climatic changes of our planet, can live for thousands of years, is very slow-growingand reaches maturity at about 70 years of age (ranging from 30 to 120 years).

Instead of planned tree cultivation, a yew tree is now being pushed to the brink of extinction by over-harvesting. Thanks to its extremely hard, very durable, and highly decay resistant wood,  yew was used by humans to the extent of annihilation - ignorance & greed stopped a natural biological process of tree regeneration.

This old evergreen tree that impresses all who have the opportunity to see it; with a massive trunk diameters of about 2m (exceptionally 4 m) and a height of up to 25m - is slowly disappearing from our forests! We now have a chance to make a difference!

Among other forest communities, the most common are Common beech forest with a giant dead nettle and Dinaric beech-fir forest. There are also pine, spruce, willow, black alder, hornbeam, Scots pine and other communities.

Una National Park
Although extensive research hasn't been done yet, it is already known that the Park is home to numerous forest communities. The most common are Common beech, deciduous oak, and noble broadleaves (Querco - Fagetea) like maple, ash tree, black hornbeam, black alder, white willow and others.

Particularly worthy of mention is a  population of a relict species - Platanus orientalis, commonly called Oriental plane tree or oriental sycamore, highly appreciated due to its rapid growth, abundant shade and beauty.

Platanus orientalisPlatanus orientalis

 Underground

Plitvice Lakes National Park
A total of 114 speleological objects (82 pits and 32 caves) have been recorded in the area of the Park. This number also includes speleological objects located up to 500 m outside of the park boundaries:

  • 91 are of smaller dimensions (up to 50 meters long)
  • 23 are medium-sized speleological objects (50-500 m).

Under special protection are objects with exceptional natural values:

1. Cave Golubinjača Natural monument - known for it's numerous cave formations.
2. Cave Šupljara Natural monument - apart from valuable cave formations, Šupljara abounds in subterranean fauna: subterranean beetles (Insecta: Coleoptera), cave crickets (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae), butterflies and cave-adapted isopods (Crustacea).
3. Cave Crna pećina Natural monument - rich in cave formations of various colors and sizes and a large bat population as well as mammals and cave-adapted  isopods (class Crustacea).

Highly worth the visit is one more valuable natural  site in the immediate vicinity of the Plitvice Lakes NP - Barac Caves in Rakovica, permanently protected as a significant landscape since 29 March 2016. 
More here: Barać Caves

Did you know that stalagmites hold climatic signatures of the very distant past, in some cases up to millions of years?! Help us protect caves, follow all signs and instructions by the staff!

Don't touch cave formations, follow the guidelines!

Una National Park
Una's lengthy tufa-depositing stream has a variety of tufa caves, as well as the terrestrial portion of the Park. A thorough scientific research is yet to come, but considering that 2Parks have the same geological features as parts of the Dinaric karst area we can assume that the number of speleological objects is also impressive.

Flora

Plitvice Lakes National Park
With regard to richness and diversity of Park's flora, Plitvice Lakes represent a unique biodiversity hotspot. Systematic Research has identified 1,267 plant species classified into 112 families.

As many as 22 legally protected plant species in the Republic of Croatia are found within the Plitvice Lakes National Park!

An impressive 8000 km2 of karst ecosystems in the Republic of Croatia were covered by the KEC project from 2003-2007 (Karst Ecosystem Conservation Project). The global objective of the project is conservation of biological and landscape diversity of karst ecological systems. It is noteworthy that the Plitvice Lakes area is among those under KEC project with the highest number of threatened species, 2.5% of the total number of recorded species, and with as high as 7% of endangered species (in relation to the total number of species) that are protected by international  conventions.

Also worth noting is an extraordinary diversity of orchids in the Park, including lady's slipper (Cypripedium calceolus) - Europe's most beautiful orchid, which is also a rare and endangered species.

Lady's slipperCypripedium calceolus - rare & endangered!

Particularly interesting are carnivorous plants, rare Common Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris) and Lesser Bladderwort (Utricularia minor), a very rare aquatic carnivorous plant.

Attention worthy is also Ligularia sibirica. This threatened Eurasian species is mainly found in Russia, its population is decreasing today but still survives in only a few localities in Southeast Europe - Plitvice Lakes being one of these few.

Una National Park
As another valuable part of the Dinaric karst, biologically important and rich area of the River Una was also covered by the KEC project (Karst Ecosystem Conservation Project) from 2003-2007. Its gorges and canyons still have preserved primeval vegetation and abundance of vulnerable and endemic species.

Rare refugial habitats and relict populations, Tertiary relict species that survived the last Glacial Maximum - roughly 20,000 years ago, had been found in this area, such as communities on steep limestone rocky faces and cliffs (Asplenietea rupestris) and others!

The ecological conditions in the Park have enabled the development of more than 1,900 plant species, which is 52.19% of all species present in Bosnia and Herzegovina!

As many as 177 medicinal plant species have been registered here, and another 105 species present are considered potentially curative. Detailed habitat research and mapping is yet to come.

Endemics

Endemic species represent plant or animal species that are unique to a defined geographic location, with narrow and wider distribution ranges.

Plitvice Lakes National Park
The number of endemic species present, of both narrow and wider distribution, is high - 72. The most significant species are the ones described for the first time, from a scientific point of view, in the area of the Park:

  • grassy bells (Edraianthus tenuifolius);
  • ranunculus  (Ranunculus scutatus);
  • meadow squill (Scilla litardierei).
Meadow squillScilla litardierei

Una National Park 
Numerous endemics of narrow and wider distribution are present in the Una National Park, many of which are rare species; therefore, even more endangered.

Local stenoendemic species

  • Una bellflower (Campanula waldsteiniana ssp.Unaensis),
  • Moehringia bavarica ssp. Malyi.

Endemics of wider distributionDinaric (11 species), Balkan (15 species), Balkan-Apennine (10 species), Dinaric-Apennine (1).

A significant number of endangered species have been identified in the area of the River Una, including globally endangered species of sedge: greater tussock sedge (Carex paniculata), great pond sedge (Carex riparia), grass like sedge (Carex panicea), meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), common reed (Phragmites australis), St John's-wort (Hypericum tetrapterum), etc. Coastal sedge is a diverse and valuable habitat for a great many animals.

Thanks to the combination of thick vegetation and abundance of food, sedge grass represents an important habitat for birds, reptiles and mammals!
Coastal sedgeDiverse & valuable habitat!

Fauna

The Biological diversity of our 2Parks is incredible, it has been carefully researched by many scientists in the area now covered by the Plitvice Lakes National Park over an extended period of time.

For the area of the Una National Park, unfortunately, the previous database of long-term research and observations was completely destroyed and the current state of the research activities is hampered by the lack of the financial and administrative resources.

Invertebrates

When it comes to small species, it is often thought that they are not particularly important. But when we learn that insects represent more than half of all known living organisms and that without them the multiple life forms on earth would not exist, we start to look differently at those little creatures. The majority of flowering plants are pollinated by insects, and they are also food for many other animals. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park
Numerous insects make the third largest species in the terrestrial habitats of the Park. The most significant and well-researched species of insect are the caddisflies (order Trichoptera) with as many as 80 species registered so far.

There are 76 species of diurnal butterflies and 245 species of nocturnal butterflies, a total of 321 species of Lepidoptera, and scientists presume that is only 40-50% of the total number of the forest species of Lepidoptera in the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

There are 150,000 species of Lepidoptera worldwide, the second most species-rich group of insects is also one of the most threatened wildlife groups! 
Critically endangered - the Blues!The Blues

Three types of the critically endangered butterfly species of the Lycaenidae family, the Bluesare present in the Park, all three species are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the European Red List, and the Red List of endangered plants and animals of Croatia:

  • Large blue (Maculinea arion);
  • Mountain Alcon blue (Maculinea rebeli);
  • Alcon blue (Maculinea alcon). 

Una National Park
In the researches conducted by Matočkin i Pavletić in 1959, 1960 and 1963, a total of 68 species of invertebrates were registered. The largest group, 19 species, also belongs to the group caddisflies (Trichoptera).

It is worth highlighting 11 species of terrestrial snails (Gastropoda) found in the Una Canyon that persisted throughout the last glacial maximum.

There are about 1,631 species of butterflies registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, however the actual number is likely to be considerably higher as only a small number of groups have been researched so far (Lelo, 2004, 2005-2008).

There is one very interesting group of organisms that are utilized to screen the health of the natural ecosystem in the environment - bioindicators

Bioindicators are natural indicators of environmental pollution that respond in an especially clear way to a change in the environment, and studies have proven daytime butterflies to be valuable environmental indicators. In addition to being extremely sensitive to subtle changes in the environment, butterflies also play a vital role in terrestrial ecosystems.

The major threat listed for butterflies today is widespread habitat destruction - grassland habitats (pastures and hay meadows)

Wildflower meadow - a paradise for insects!

Vertebrates

The accelerated extinction rate of vertebrate species that the Earth is experiencing right now represents a serious threat to our very existence as human species and life as we know it on our planet!

The number of vertebrate species that have gone extinct in the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate, more than 400 vertebrates had vanished since 1900!! 

Racing Extinction!

The study, Accelerated modern human-induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction, led by a team of scientists from universities of Stanford, Princeton, and Berkeley, says that Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plant and animal species. But now with a big difference, this is the first that includes human beings!!
Link: Abstract

Based on the analysis of the fossil vertebrate record, researchers found that the rate of extinction has been up to 100 times higher than in periods when Earth was not going through a mass extinction event.

"We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.", Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University professor 

This rapid pace and alarming biodiversity loss is being caused by industrial and our activities:

  • pollution: caused by the rapid rise in fossil fuel combustion and a corresponding rapid growth in CO2 emissions; 
  • modern agriculture, crops, livestock, forestry, and fisheries: the leading causes of habitat (natural environment) loss and species extinction - deforestation, livestock industry (by far the largest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions (GGELS), overfishing (the biggest threat to the ocean environment and one of the main causes of so-called “dead zones” in the world's  oceans and lakes), intensive use of agrochemicals, especially pesticides;
  • widespread illegal wildlife trade
  • unsustainable consumer-driven lifestyle and increasing meat consumption.
The situation is so alarming that a global action has been launched by the support of the UN that calls us all to awaken and realize that this massively unsustainable way of life we live will lead to the extinction of 50% of all plant and animal species by 2100!

Pollination by bees could be lost within three human generations!!

Approximately only 10% of flowering plants use abiotic (non-living) pollination, while 90% are pollinated by insects - primarily bees, that together with other animal pollinators play a huge part in our food supply.

Today, honey bees are harmed by widely used insecticides, especially neonicotinoids, a group of deadly insecticides used on farms and in urban landscapes. Mounting evidence suggests that neonics could not only be harmful to bees, but to humans as well.
Link: Neonicotinoids & Bees

For millions of years bees have been crucial to the survival of our planet, and today we are witnessing a dramatic decline of the world's bee population - time to act and preserve a world with bees for future generations!
Link: EU total ban of bee harming pesticides 

The environmental documentary "Racing Extinction", directed by Louie Psihoyos, is depicting the current environmental crisis facing the Earth. In September 2014, an 11-minute message was shown on the outside of the UN in New York. 
Have a look: Racing Extinction 2014 

Almost five years later, the most extensive global research ever made of the state of nature reveals that we now face the most dangerous situation. The summary of the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was publicly presented on May 6, 2019 and provides clear evidence that the relentless pace of massive destruction of habitats and wildlife continues at rates unprecedented in human history.

A window of opportunity for stopping the process of mass extinction still exists, but under very demanding conditions and is rapidly closing - without radical, transformative changes and active participation of us all the process will not stop. More under Our Green Mission join us!

Be the change, start with yourself and inspire others, don't ever think you can't make a difference - you can! 

Worth Fighting For!!

 Fishes

Plitvice Lakes National Park
Seven (7) species of freshwater fishes have been registered in Park's lakes, especially Lake Kozjak, including chub, common dace (Leuciscus leuciscus), and trout group. Fishing is not allowed here! 

Una National Park
As many as fifteen (15) species of fish have previously been registered, including brown trout (Salmo trutta), grayling (Thymallus thymallus) and southern barbel (Barbus meridionalis). Fishing is allowed in the Park, which makes fish populations even more vulnerable.

Valuable endemic species are:

  • brown trout (Salmo trutta);
  • Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) and Danube roach (Rutilus pigus) - endemics of the Danube river and its tributaries. 

According to the Management Plan, increasingly threatened freshwater fishes are: grayling, southern barbel, Danube salmon, spirlin, Danube roach and European bullhead. Vulnerability is caused by intensified exploitation of watercourses and habitat loss, which both contributes to the decline of these fish populations. 

Protected species:

  • Under Bern Convention, Appendix III: Danube salmon, Danube roach, grayling, schneider, southern barbell, and European bullhead.
  • Under EU Directive, Annex II: Danube salmon, southern barbel, Danube roach, and European bullhead.
  • Under EU Directive, Annex V: Danube salmon, grayling, common barbell, and southern barbell.

Fishing is making these species even more vulnerable, please help the river by following the National Park's fishing rules! 

Amphibians, reptiles, insectivores, rodents and bats

Plitvice Lakes National Park
The world of small vertebrates is very diverse in the Park - but also very threatened.

As many as 36 out of 65 species of small vertebrates in the Park are considered endangered and in need of additional care and protection!

For 12 species, out of 36 in need for additional protection, the Park must ensure special reserves or protected sites for:

  • Amphibians: alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) and yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata);
  • Reptiles: pond turtle (Emys orbicularis);
  • Rodents: dormouse (Eliomys quercinus L.);
  • Bats: as many as eight species of bats - Mediterranean horseshoe bat, greater horseshoe bat,  Lesser Horseshoe Bat,  western barbastelle, common bent-wing bat, long-fingered bat, lesser mouse-eared bat and greater mouse-eared bat.

Classification and mapping studies confirmed 21 species of bats in the Park. 

Bats play an extremely important role in many environments around the world and are widely used as environmental indicators or bioindicators! 

They are a very important factor in the natural regeneration of forests; they pollinate flowers of a whole range of plants that bloom during the night, and are known as "natural pest controllers". Feeding almost exclusively on a wide variety of insects and spiders, bats provide natural or biological control of these populations!

Highly endangered species - bats!

Alarming is the only way to describe the fact that out of eight (8) endangered bats in the Park, four (4) species are in the category of critically endangered species:

  • Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale);
  • greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum);
  • common bent-wing bat (Miniopterus schreibersi);
  • long-fingered bat (Myotis capaccinii). 

 These are main reasons why bats are endangered: 

  • disturbance of colonies in caves, particularly in late spring and winter;
  • habitat loss through destruction of micro-sites and faunal groups (deforestation, destruction of foraging areas and caves);
  • habitat destruction along busy tourist paths;
  • increased use of pesticides;
  • acid rain: rain polluted by high amounts of chemicals and acids in the atmosphere has become a major environmental problem today with devastating effects on aquatic environments such as streams, lakes and marshes, as well as all animals, plants and natural resources, including all man-made goods.
Bats are among the world's most endangered species brought to the edge of extinction by uncontrolled destruction of nature, concreting, accumulation of hazardous waste and widespread use of chemical pesticides!

Visit the Bat Night, the event takes place the last full weekend of August. Every year since 1997 in more than 30 countries, including the Plitvice Lakes and Barac Caves in our corner of the world, we all have a chance to learn more about this valuable species.

Classification and mapping studies also confirmed:

  • 12 species of reptiles (class Reptilia): the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is in need for additional protection, so Park must ensure special reserves or protected sites;
  • 6 species of the mammalian order Eulipotyphla (former Insectivora);
  • 14 species of rodents (Rodentia);
  • 12 species of amphibians (clas Amphibia).
Amphibians are also excellent bioindicators of environmental health due to their high susceptibility to chemicals. They take in nutrients through their skin so toxins in the environment build up faster in their bodies than in other species and quickly reflect environmental conditions! 

Una National Park
According to the "Management Plan", 10 species of Amphibians of the order of tailed and tailless amphibians are registered in the Park. It is quite possible (still not scientifically confirmed) that there are other species of Amphibians present, such as: Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex), alpine salamander (Salamandra atra) and olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus). 

Amphibians - Highly Endangered Group!Triturus carnifex

Amphibians, excellent bioindicators of environmental health, are protected under international conventions and by IUCN Red Data List (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

According to the IUCN criteria, two species have been classified threatened:

  • olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus) - vulnerable (VU), presence not scientifically verified;
  • European tree frog (Hyla arborea) - near threatened (NT)

According to Bern Convention, Appendix II, four fauna species are strictly protected:

  • yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata);
  • common toad (Bufo bufo);
  • tree frogs (family Hylidae);
  • agile frog (Rana dalmatina).

According to Bern Convention, Appendix III - protected fauna species of the Una upstream are:

  • fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra); alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris); 
  • common newt (Lissotriton vulgaris);
  • common toad (Bufo bufo); 
  • common frog (Rana temporaria);
  • marsh frog (Rana ridibunda)
Amphibians, one of the most diverse groups of terrestrial vertebrates with approximately 7,000 known species are threatened worldwide; nearly one-third of amphibians are in danger of becoming extinct - more than 1800 species!

Frogs are among the most endangered and threatened amphibians! Out of approximately 4,740 known species of frog around the world today (number is in constant flux), an estimated 1,900 are in a threatened state and around 170 species have become extinct in the last 10 years alone. IUCN amphibians

The most pressing threats to frogs today, and amphibians in general, are habitat destruction, pollution, pesticides and infectious diseases! 

European tree frog - threatened!European tree frog - threatened!

It is assumed that there are at least 12 different reptile species in the wider area of the River Una including scaled reptiles (Squamata) and turtles (Chelonia).

There are two prominent species of terrestrial reptiles present here, both of which are regarded as endemic species of the Balkans:

  • eastern meadow lizard (Lacerta agilis bosnica);
  • Bosnian common adder (Vipera berus bosniensis).

There is a high probability of the presence of other species of reptiles such as: Velebit lizard (Arheolacerta horvathi), meadow viper, Ursini's viper (Vipera ursinii macrops) and the blue-throated keeled lizard or Dalmatian algyroides (Algyroides nigropunctatus).

Two species are endemic:

  • Balkan snow vole (Oro-Mediterranean);
  • alpine pine vole (endemic to southern Alps).

The Management Plan suggests the presence of other species of small vertebrates in the wider area of the river including: 9 species of the mammalian order Eulipotyphla (former Insectivora), 16 bats (Chiroptera) and 17 rodent species (Rodentia).

Unfortunately, it is unknown how many of small vertebrates species are endangered today. Much of the previous scientific research data has been destroyed in the war and new research activities are currently hampered. However, the situation demands urgent attention, as indicated in the Management Plan - the further accumulation of negative impacts can cause significant habitat destruction, lack of food for wild animals and, consequently, species loss. 

 Birds

One of the most important biological and conservation related issues today is the conservation of birds and the habitats upon which they depend.

Birds are extremely important animals because they keep ecological systems in balance. Birds eat insects and provide natural insect pest control; they pollinate plants, disperse seeds and are also important scavengers in many ecosystems, removing the carcasses of dead animals.

Plitvice Lakes National Park
The ornithofauna of the Plitvice Lakes area is very rich, especially in forest habitatscharacterized by numerous species. So far, 161 species of birds have been recorded in the Park, with as many as 103 species that nest regularly or occasionally here.

A few valuable bio-indicator bird species are also present in the Plitvice Lakes area. Dippers, among other things, are very useful as indicators to changes in aquatic habitats and large and stable woodpecker and owl populations are quality indicators for forest habitats.

DipperBioindicator bird specie - dipper!

Unfortunately, Park's ornithofauna is facing a high level of threat: 38 nesting birds are listed on the Red List of Plants and Animals of the Republic of Croatia (Radović and assoc., 2004): 

  • critically endangered  (CR) - short-eared owl (Asio flammeus);
  • endangered  (EN) - peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), European honey-buzzard (Pernis apivorus), Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), Corn Crake (Crex crex), black stork (Ciconia nigra) and common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos);
  • vulnerable (VU) - 12 species;
  • least concern  (LC) - 22 species.

Seventy five (75) of Park's nesting birds are listed in Appendix II of the Bern Convention, and seventeen (17) bird species listed in Annex I of the EU Birds Directive nest regularly or occasionally in the Park.

Bird species Corn Crake (Crex crex), Ural owl (Strix uralensis), Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus), Eurasian pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), and three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) nest in the number that has allowed the Park to become a part of the European Union's land area protected under a network of preserves known as Natura 2000, with the potential to be entitled to the status of Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

Una National Park
Based on data obtained through field-based habitat studies and observations of birds in the wider area of Lika region in Croatia and the upper stream of the River Una, there is a high probability of the presence of more than 120 species of birds.

Although there are no records of endemic species present, the Park’s ornithofauna is unique due to its diverse and large number of songbirds, as well as some rare and endangered species such as western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), Corn Crake (Crex crex), hazel grouse (Tetrastes bonasia), woodpecker (Picidae), owl (order Strigiformes), and family tits and chickadees (Paridae).

When it comes to the endangered species, some birds stand out: Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).

Endangered speciePeregrine FalconPeregrine Falcon

Given the fact that this wider area is a part of a very important migration ecological corridor known as the African-Eurasian Flyway and considering existing scientific data concerning ornithofauna of the wider regional area, including Lika and Pokuplje area in Croatia, it is assumed that the true number of bird species could be higher than 160.

Large mammals

Plitvice Lakes National Park
Certainly the most famous large mammal representative of our region is the brown bear (Ursus arctos), also a part of the Plitvice Lakes National Park logo design. Other endangered large mammal species that live here are the gray wolf (Canis lupus), the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and the wildcat (Felis silvestris).

All four species are highly endangered and protected by law!!

These four large mammal species are placed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and all present the Natura 2000 important species (EU rare, endangered or vulnerable species of animals). 

Threatened Species - Eurasian lynxEurasian Lynx

Many other large mammal species have been registered here, including foxes, badgers, European pine martens, beech martens, European polecats, weasels, etc., and Park's large herbivores - European roe deer, red deer, and wild boars.

For the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), legally protected and listed on the Croatian Red List of endangered plants and animals, scientists don't have enough data available to estimate the risk of extinction.

Most of the world's 13 species of otter are classified as vulnerable or endangered species due to industrial activities (habitat loss/ degradation and water pollution)! They are all listed as Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and many are additionally protected in their home nations.

This group of large mammal species is placed in a particularly difficult situation. Animals don't care for artificial human-made boundaries; they must migrate to find food, to breed, or to avoid unfavorable weather conditions - all crucial to their survival. At the same time, protected animal species are finding harder and harder to move inside and beyond the national park boundaries because of the continuous construction, various human activities  and large numbers of visitors moving in every direction. There is no question we have brought about an enormous pressure on these intelligent animals.

Before the entrance to the national park please read the Park Rules carefully: Rules of conduct

Una National Park
Estimates for the number of the mammalian order Carnivora is around 13 members; yet to be thoroughly researched in the Una National Park.

Among protected mammals, we singled out three large carnivores from a highly endangered group: the brown bear (Ursus arctos), the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), all regarded as the most potential focal species in distributed areas.

The other most likely species of the mammalian order Carnivora to inhabit this area are: the otter (Lutrinae), the badger (family Mustelidae)the weasel (Mustela) and the stoat (Mustela erminea). There is a highest probability of finding other species of this order, but they need to be confirmed in future studies.

The major systematic study of three large carnivores mentioned above (NP Una 2012-2014), has so far been the only and mainly focused to describe space use, movement behaviour patterns and activities of bears. An assessment of threats to large mammals, as well as the main science phase and detailed research in the Una National Park are yet to come, hopefully in the near future.

Before the entrance to the national park please read the Park Rules carefully: Park rules

Endangered species - bearsEndangered - Bear Family

Dear visitors, we hope this information will help you to better understand how fragile and sensitive these ecosystems are. Thank you in advance for your cooperation - because when you purchase a ticket and visit protected areas during the off-season months, you will not only enjoy peaceful, quiet time in nature, but also contribute to scientific research and the conservation of protected areas.

Together in Green Mission! With joint efforts we can make a major contribution to the protection of nature and to the survival of many rural communities!

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