Development of a management plan for the Neretva Delta in Croatia

In April 2016, the Association BIOM and the Public Institution for Management of Protected Natural Values in Dubrovnik-Neretva County, Croatia, began developing a management plan proposal for the Neretva Delta Natura 2000 site and other protected areas. This document, if endorsed, will serve as a guideline for various stakeholders and sectorial policies, as well as being a strategic document for the Counties’ Public Institution. The management plan proposal is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Neretva Delta is one of the most valuable wetlands on the eastern Adriatic coast and one of only a few that remain in the Mediterranean region of Europe with extensive reedbeds. The delta is characterized by wide lagoons, sandflats and saltmarshes, lakes and tributaries of the Neretva. The main visual identity of the area is a reclaimed agricultural landscape with many irrigation channels.


                          Neretva Delta. Photo: Ivan Budinski/BIOM


The delta represents the largest reedbeed complex in Croatia and serves as an important stopover, breeding and wintering site for almost 200 regularly occurring bird species. The lagoons and brackish waters are an exceptionally important habitat for many fish species as well, and, in addition, in karst surroundings more than 80 registered caves and other underground habitats are home to rich fauna with many threatened and endemic taxa.

Neretva Delta is a Natura 2000 site, designated both as a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Site of Community Importance (SCI). Since 1993 the area is also designated as a Ramsar Site, also known as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Additionally, there are six other protected localities; most of them ornithological reserves, but currently there are no management plans for these protected sites.

Within its boundaries, the Natura 2000 site encompasses other protected areas and, if endorsed, this management plan will be adopted for the Ramsar Site as well. The team working on the plan took part in the “Creation and Implementation of Management Plans for Ramsar Sites” workshop, organized by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and EuroNatur in Croatia in October 2016. During the workshop the promotion of the cultural values of Ramsar Sites was also identified as essential to be included in future planned activities. Thus, this document takes into account natural, cultural and socioeconomic values of the Neretva delta area.

“One of the general objectives is to protect and preserve valuable habitats and species, with special emphasis on wetland and coastal marine habitats. Regular monitoring and research activities, as well as potential revitalization of important bird habitats, have been foreseen to accomplish this objective,” said Dubravko Dender from the Counties’ Public institution.


                      Illegal hunting practices. Photo: Ivan Budinski/BIOM


Although recognized for its natural values, there are various threats and activities that have negative impacts on the wildlife of the delta, such as habitat degradation, agricultural intensification and poaching. There are approximately 35,000 people inhabiting the area and to deal with these challenges an approach that takes into account the social, economic and environmental aspects of the area is necessary.

The management plan proposal is being developed in a participatory way and involves several workshops with local stakeholders. So far 50 participants from 25 different institutions and NGOs were present at each of the two workshops held so far. Preserving this vital delta in the future is at the same time challenging and encouraging, bearing in mind the vision of the local community interviewed for the purpose of the management plan: “Neretva Delta – an ecological oasis of preserved biodiversity. Organic and sustainable agriculture is the keystone of development of the region”.


Author: Ivana Šarić, Associate for Nature Conservation, Association BIOM


For more information

The development of the management plan is done within the framework of the project “Adriatic Flyway 3” and is co-financed by EuroNatur Stiftung and MAVA Foundation.


Association BIOM

Public Institution for Management of Protected Natural Values in Dubrovnik-Neretva County

To learn more about the Adriatic Flyway, watch the video here.



Ivana Šarić, Associate for Nature Conservation, Association BIOM