Interview by Nikola Stojnic from the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia on Serbian wetlands and the new Ramsar site

Serbia’s Department for Protection of Nature and Biodiversity, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, with the assistance of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, has designated Koviljsko-Petrovaradinski Rit (8,292 hectares, 45°10’40″N 020°04’10″E) as the country’s tenth Wetland of International Importance. The site is located in the Vojvodina province and is already a Special Nature Reserve and BirdLife IBA. More information is available on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands website.

In MedWet we are very pleased with this new designation and have taken the opportunity to ask Mr Nikola Stojnic, ornithologist from the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia some questions on the state and wise use of wetlands in Serbia.

1.    Can you tell us a few words on the wise use and protection policy of wetlands in Serbia?

Protection of wetlands in Serbia is mainly based on designation of protected areas, and its further management. Most of the important wetlands are protected, among them almost all Ramsar sites. Nevertheless, there is more to be done. One of the first duties is to stop further peat excavation on Ramsar site Pestersko polje, through its designation as protected area. There are important wetlands for which documentation for protection is also ready like Okanj bara and a process of protection is going on. Some important wetlands are not yet protected, especially along rivers Tamis and Bosut. Generally, wise use is present in most wetlands, protected and not, through traditional use and management, but it is not sufficient and should be strengthened.

2.    What changes do you think that the Ramsar designation of Koviljsko-Petrovaradinski Rit will bring in terms of its management and its overall protection?

Nomination of Ramsar site was made at the same time as the process of enlarging the Reserve, so it already helped as a support of that process. The Ramsar designation will help through raising awareness of local land users (foresters, shepherds, fishermen, hunters etc) and their more harmonized work with nature conservation. Also it will make better tourist potential and a chance for improvement of wetland management.

3.    Talk to us about other well-managed wetlands in Serbia?

One among best examples of good wetland management in Serbia is Obedska bara, one of the first Ramsar sites, where numerous revitalization activities occur. Many wet meadows, ponds and oxbows are restored. Similar activities, but on a smaller scale, are done on Rasmar sites Gornje Podunavlje, Stari begej – Carska bara, Ludasko jezero and Zasavica. On Ramsar site Slano kopovo a water regime restoration project is in its final stage.

4.    This year’s World Wetlands Day (WWD) had the theme of ‘Wetlands and Tourism’.  Can you tell us about the status of wetland tourism in Serbia ?

Wetland tourism in Serbia is still not developed in a way that it can harm nature values. Wetlands where tourism is developed are Zasavica and Carska bara, it is under development on Ludasko jezero and Obedska bara, and in other wetlands it consists of  just occasional visits.