Priority landscapes | WWF

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PRIORITY LANDSCAPES

© Michel Gunther

Whether rushing down the mountains, rising up from deep underground or meandering through wide fields, the waters of the Adria region carve fantastic landscapes and shape diverse cultural traditions. Our mission is to protect these custodians of our shared history for all generations to come.

oases of life

We have been shaping our environment for millennia, but never before in the history of our planet has this change been as rapid as in the last 50 years. Nowhere is this felt more than in freshwater ecosystems, which are disappearing at astonishing rates.

Managing water was at the core of our development as a species, yet we have taken it too far, heedless of the price of unconstrained growth. In the last century alone this has resulted in the loss of more than half of all wetland habitats in the world. Despite this, in the Adria region, we can still find well-preserved freshwater landscapes sustaining vast biodiversity and human communities, true oases of life.

If we allow them to disappear, we will lose all the benefits they provide and jeopardize our own future.

Today, rivers and wetlands in our region are under serious pressure from unsustainable hydropower development, in particular, small hydro. And when it comes to size, small doesn’t mean with less impact. Our rivers are being turned into pipes, leaving their beds dry and lifeless, endangering the lives and the basic human rights of local communities across the region. It is time for us to realize that hydropower is not a green – nor clean – source of energy!

Did you know?

In the last 50 years, due to dams and hydropower development, more than 50% of Hutovo Blato’s wetlands have disappeared.

© Andrija Vrdoljak / WWF

LIVES SHAPED BY WATER

Our lives are entwined with the landscapes which surround us. Nature and people have always coexisted, leaving a legacy of stunningly beautiful places throughout the Adria region, many of them shaped by water.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, the Neretva and Trebišnjica rivers form one of these amazing landscapes, sustaining communities and biodiversity alike. This transboundary river system supports numerous endemic species and ecosystems, such as the Hutovo Blato Nature Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Neretva Delta in Croatia.

Further to the west, thousands of Adriatic isles hide rare, little-known island wetlands. Shaped by centuries of life, these small but important areas are part of a Mediterranean-wide ecological network. Although small, island wetlands serve many important functions, from maintaining water quality and keeping pollution in check to reducing the effects of storms, and providing food and water for local communities. Without them, life on Mediterranean islands and along its coast would be more precarious and vulnerable to climate change.

Almost 35% of all fresh water in Bosnia and Herzegovina is contained within the Neretva-Trebišnjica river basin.

© Michel Gunther / WWF

WHAT WE'RE DOING

We are integrating conservation, sustainable land use and restoration projects across the region. By encouraging good governance, sustainable finance and community involvement we are preventing the loss of the most important landscapes in the Adria region.

Partnering with individuals, communities, decision-makers and businesses, we are putting in place long-lasting, integrated landscape management aimed at preserving and restoring valuable landscapes for the benefit of people and nature.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The story of water is the most important story of all. Without it, there would be no life. Help us preserve the priority places that give us fresh water!

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In Croatia, 2.739 wetlands have been identified on 71 islands.

© Hyla

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