Neretva and Trebišnjica river basin | WWF

Neretva and Trebišnjica river basin

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Different faces of the Neretva River.
© Edward PARKER / WWF

Neretva and Trebišnjica river basin

Neretva and Trebišnjica river basin accounts for almost 35% of freshwater in BiH. It hosts extremely valuable biodiversity and plays a crucial socio-economic role in production of electricity, providing drinking water supply and agriculture.

The Neretva River is one of the longest rivers in the Dinaric Arc. With a length of 225 km Neretva forms spectacular canyons and gorges on its way to the Adriatic Sea, creating a delta of rich wetlands such as Hutovo Blato (a nature park (IUCN category V) and Ramsar site) and Neretva delta (Ramsar site and future Natura 2000 site).
 
75 fish species have been identified in the Neretva River, several of which are endemic and on the Red list of IUCN, such as: trout (Salmo marmoratus), brook trout (Salmothymus obtusirostris), ostrulja (Aulopyge huegelii) and podustva (Chondrostoma knerii).
 
115 bird species regularly nest in the Neretva river basin, but the total number of species occurring exceeds 300 since this area is an important European wintering site for migratory birds. Pygmy cormorant, different kinds of ducks, herons, curlew, grebes, river gulls, eagles and many other species, live, rest or spend the winter here. 

Main threats
 
IUCN estimates that Neretva River is one of the rivers with the largest number of endemic fish species in the Mediterranean. Because Neretva and Trebišnjica basin is facing great pressure from hydropower, agriculture and other users that threaten biodiversity, WWF placed this basin on the list of 35 priority river basins in the world that need to be protected from further degradation.
 
There are currently 10 hydropower plants in the basin and there are plans to build seven new large hydropower plants through diverting water away from its natural basin (Upper Horizons project). Diverting water will have significant impacts on wetlands, especially in the Neretva River delta in Croatia where, due to the lower inflow of freshwater, salinization threatens more than 30,000 people in the area who depend on agriculture.
 
WWF's solutions

It is crucial to integrate nature conservation aspects into the existing hydropower system and apply the relevant EU directives and modern standards before further hydropower development on the Neretva River. 

WWF is committed to implementing the principles of integrated water management in the Neretva and Trebišnjica basin, in the framework of which disagreements about managing energy system, meeting the needs of agriculture and conserving key ecosystems need to be addressed and resolved.
 

NERETVA IN NUMBERS

75  Fish species

7    Endemic fish species

300 Bird species

115 Bird species regularly nesting in the area
Trebišnjica river in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina 
	© Edward PARKER / WWF
Trebišnjica river in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina
© Edward PARKER / WWF
 
	© WWF
Map of natural underground water connections and artificial hydropower tunnels and channels in the Trebišnjica & Neretva river basin
© WWF
Regulated tract of Trebišnjica river in Popovo plain, Bosnia & Herzegovina 
	© Edward PARKER / WWF
© Edward PARKER / WWF

MAP OF BIOLOGICALLY MOST VALUABLE RIVER REACHES IN BiH

 
	© WWF
Neretva canyon near Drežnica, Bosnia & Herzegovina rel=
Neretva canyon near Drežnica, Bosnia & Herzegovina
© Edward PARKER / WWF