Croatia is the land of a thousand islands and connects the Mediterranean and Danube-Carpathian ecoregions. Its northern and north-eastern part is embellished with lakes and hills, forested mountains dominate Lika and Gorski Kotar, while a rocky coastline borders the Adriatic Sea. WWF has worked in Croatia since 2000, on the sustainable management of protected areas and protection of freshwater habitats. We cooperate with numerous NGOs and work with public institutions.
The goal of WWF's freshwater programme around the world is to ensure healthy ecosystems in the biologically richest river basins, the protection and sustainable management of representative wetlands, and to promote strategies and techniques that protect life in rivers and at the same time create benefits for the communities that depend on them.
WWF`s work on protection of freshwater habitats in Croatia started in 2011 through the project towards the establishment of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, an initiative supported by UNESCO. Striving for living rivers, WWF is working to stop the regulation projects on these rivers and protect all flora and fauna, ensuring protection and sustainable management of the cross-border river ecosystem of the Mura, Drava and Danube, as well as create conditions for better livelihoods for local people. This programme is also known as Amazon of Europe.
In the light of the growing number of hydropower plants and dams in the region WWF launched the Dinaric Arc Sustainable Hydropower Initiative (DASHI) in 2011. The project works towards the long-term sustainability of key freshwater ecosystems in the region through change in the behaviour of key stakeholders in hydropower development (developers, financial institutions, legislators). It aims to improve the legal framework for strategic planning and declaration of exclusion zones for hydropower development, and mobilise civil society in preventing unsustainable hydropower projects, especially in sensitive areas with high biodiversity i.e. protected areas.
You can find the map of the most important river reaches in Croatia here.
Croatia has eight national parks and eleven nature parks, and together with Grabovača Cave Park they are all part of the association Parks Dinarides, a network of protected areas of the Dinarides. In almost all parks WWf has carried out the Protected Area benefits Assessment (PA BAT). WWF also enabled three protected areas to gain the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas (National Park Kornati and nature parks Lonjsko polje and Medvednica).
WWF supported the establishment of Nature Park Lastovo islands as well as the establishment of National Park Northern Velebit, which has also been recognised as one of WWF's global Gifts to the Earth – natural monuments. Through partnership with the NGO Sunce WWF contributed to the development of management plans for five marine protected areas in Croatia: NP Brijuni, NP Kornati, NP Mljet, PP Telaščica and PP Lastovo islands, which are threatened by mass tourism, pollution and overfishing.
WWF`s work on protected areas was enforced in 2008 when the Croatian government signed the document Big Win for the Dinaric Arc. The government also signed the Big Win 2 in 2013 and committed to new ambitious goals in nature protection and conservation.
In Croatia, WWF is currently implementing Protected Areas for Nature and People towards the sustainable use of natural resources in the
Dinaric Arc region as a foundation for socio-economic development.