Serbia is situated on the crossing of the Continental and Pannonian biogeographical regions and covers the eastern corner of the Dinaric Arc. It is distinguished by vast plains in the north, river valleys and mountains in its central part, and hills, steep canyons and cliffs, caves and protected forests in the south. Occupying a unique position between central Europe and the Mediterranean, Serbia hosts exceptionally rich biodiversity.
WWF has worked in Serbia since 2009, mostly on the protection of freshwater ecosystems and protected areas, but is also developing educational programmes on sustainable development.
In 2011 WWF launched a two-year project Restoration of wetland habitats in the area of Mura, Drava and Danube. So far wetland habitats in the area of Štrbac in the Gornje Podunavlje Special nature reserve have been restored, while WWF plans to restore Šarkanj and Bestrement, both part of the historical floodplains of the Danube River.
The Danube has suffered 150 years of regulation for the purposes of river navigation, agriculture, gravel extraction and hydropower development. Regulation has destroyed 80% of natural wetland areas, the biologically most productive habitats, and reduced the diversity of flora and fauna.
Gornje Podunavlje Special nature reserve is one of the most important wetlands in the middle part of the Danube and is part of the future UNESCO Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, also known as the Amazon of Europe, which extends into the territories of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia. Wetlands and floodplains provide a number of ecosystem services such as reducing the impact of floods, ensuring spawning habitats for fish and purifying the waters.
In the framework of the project Protect the rivers in the Danube basin WWF is working to bring together the water management sector and nature protection sector to ensure future integrated management of the Danube basin. WWF has identified the most valuable freshwater ecosystems in Serbia i.e. freshwater areas with exceptionally rich biodiversity and important ecosystem services, which should be proclaimed as exclusion zones for hydropower development.
In the framework of a regional partnership with Coca-Cola WWF has launched the Living Danube initiative to restore more than 53km² of wetlands and floodplains along the Danube by 2020. One of the most important actions in the project has been the Living Danube Tour, a special travelling interactive exhibition about the importance of water and water ecosystems and the need to protect and restore wetland areas.
WWF's work on protected areas in Serbia is focused on networking, implementation of the principles of sustainable tourism, education and exchange of experiences, and promotion of natural values.
Through the project Dinaric Arc Parks WWF established the association Parks Dinarides – the network of protected areas in Dinarides that serves as a networking platform for protected areas in the region. Special attention is paid to the assessment of the benefits of protected areas (PA BAT), the implementation of principles of sustainable tourism, climate change, exchange of experiences and education and joint promotion of parks.
Fruška gora National Park and Gornje Podunavlje special nature reserve are the first in Serbia to receive the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in Protected Areas, and are working intensively to bring together protection of nature, people and development and enable the survival of exceptional biodiversity hosted in these protected areas.
WWF is currently working through the regional project Protected Areas for Nature and People on the development of an educational programme in five national parks in Serbia: Fruška gora, Đerdap and Tara, Gornje Podunavlje Special nature reserve and protected area Avala. In the framework of the same project, stakeholders' forums in protected areas have been organized, while the monitoring of the bear programme is being developed in Tara National Park and the Montenegrin National Park Biogradska Gora.
Policy and Advocacy
WWF together with partners from 5 countries in 2016 initiated a project titled Civil society acts for environmentally sound socio-economic development (CO-SEED), in following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey, with WWF Adria from Croatia acting in an advisory role in the project. CO-SEED aims to contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources through improved regulatory frameworks and more participatory and transparent decision- making processes, which involve a vibrant group of civil society organizations and increased attention of the media on the topic, with benefits for society at large. Read more about CO-SEED at www.co-seed.eu/en.
For more information on WWF`s work in Serbia click here.
Contact WWF Adria in Serbia:
World Organization for Nature (WON)
Đure Jakšića 4a/8
Phone: +381 11 30 33 753
Duška Dimović, WWF country offrice manager in Serbia