Bosnia-Herzegovina celebrates a major new karst Ramsar site

On 3 April 2009, in the small town of Livno, the Bosnian authorities, experts from local and international NGOs and different stakeholders celebrated the inscription of Livanjsko Polje (Livno karst field) in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Senad Oprasic, heading the national Ramsar Administrative Authority in Sarajevo, expressed his satisfaction that the Ramsar Convention was providing the first legal protection to this outstanding area, while his office is working to prepare the urgently needed environmental legislation for his country, including a law for protected areas. Ramsar’s Regional Advisor for Europe Tobias Salathé was present and provided a brief, illustrated report o­n the event and its significance.

Polje, a local word meaning field, is a distinctive karst feature. Poljes are large flat limestone depressions, sometimes filled with fertile sedimentary deposits and often waterlogged in wet seasons. At approximately 40,000 hectares, with a regularly flooded surface area of approximately 20,000 hectares, Livanjsko Polje near Livno in Bosnia-Herzegovina could be the largest karst polje in the world. A valuable wetland and important bird area, it combines marshes and peat bogs with extensive grasslands. Agricultural areas edge its southern border; temperate forests spread out to the north.
Natural grasslands are important and productive vegetation communities. Unfortunately, this high natural biodiversity is sacrificed when large mechanised farming operations turn grasslands into monocultures of commercial crops or when traditional agriculture is abandoned and the grasslands are replaced by encroaching forests. As a result of these practices, grassland habitats are progressively disappearing in Europe.

At Livanjsko Polje, however, traditional agriculture – notably, keeping cattle and sheep and producing flavoursome Livno cheese from their milk – has been compatible with maintaining the polje’s variety of unique habitats. Populations of rare and endangered species survive, including the corncrake, Montagu’s harrier, lesser spotted eagle, redshank, snipe and great bittern.
Source : WWF and Ramsar Convention websites.

Updated on 4/29/2009 5:17:16 PM