WWF Adria used the occasion of World Wetlands Day to remind people about the importance of wetlands, trying to involve them in the conservation of these ecosystems and to stop and reverse their loss and degradation.
In this context, an event was organized on 3 February in Sarajevo by WWF Adria, EuroNatur, Ornithological Society ‘’Our Birds” (Naše ptice), Youth Center Livno (YCL), Dinarica and Centre for Environment (CZZS). The main message was: “Our marshes are perishing for lack of care from relevant institutions and non-compliance not only with domestic law but also with international conventions.”
World Wetlands Day, Sarajevo ©WWF
In a special educational pavilion, there was a multimedia presentation of the flora and fauna of wetlands – “The Green-Gray World”. The “Green World” showed healthy wetland habitats with rich flora and fauna, while “Gray World” showed the apocalypse that awaits us if these important ecosystems are not protected. Other activities included a mini exhibition of photographs, a screening of a documentary film about wetlands, and educational workshops and an interactive quiz organized for children from primary schools in the Municipality of downtown Sarajevo.
Workshops for children, World Wetlands Day in Sarajevo, ©WWF
Today in Bosnia and Herzegovina there is a legal framework that allows our wetlands of international importance to remain preserved. However, EU directives are transposed only nominally while in practice we are in the 1970s. Environmental impact assessments are handled unprofessionally and sloppily. Environmental permits for facilities that are threatening wetlands of international importance have been reduced to a mere formality and are issued without any technical considerations. The result of this poor implementation of domestic laws and outdated practices, which in Europe have been rejected long ago, is demonstrated by the disastrous state of Ramsar sites wetland ecosystems of Hutovo Blato, Livno field and Bardača, says Zoran Mateljak, representative of WWF Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As Viktor Bjelić from the Centre for Environment said, wetlands need to be preserved because they have an extremely important role in the fight against climate change. At a time when we are faced with increasingly frequent climate extremes, such as extreme floods and droughts, wetlands can play a very important role in the natural retention of high waters and regulation of the water regime in the summer and drought periods. Unless something changes urgently, Bardača, the only wetland of international importance in the Republic of Serbia, may permanently lose its natural and cultural values, as well as its status as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Bjelić warned that relevant institutions must give priority to the public interest before the private one if we want to preserve this very important habitat.
With good management of the natural parks in the Balkans region, wetlands can be areas in which we can recognize all their beauty and value, as well as places that help us cope with extreme weather events.
Communications officer WWF Adria