The Neretva River Delta

June 8, 2023

The Neretva River Delta, with a total area of about 20 000 ha, is the one of the most interesting areas of the Republic of Croatia and Europe, extending to about 12 000 ha in the Republic of Croatia. It is the largest river mouth of the Republic of Croatia and one of the few remaining wetlands in Europe consisting of remnants of Mediterranean wetlands with preserved coastal lagoons and large areas of wetlands. It is especially important to mention reed beds which are habitats of many endangered species of animals.

Neretva is the largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps and notable for its diverse ecosystems and habitats, like vast reedbeds, lagoons, pastures, sandbanks, riparian forests, and narrow river valleys. It is justifiably considered a bird paradise, counting a total of 310 species recorded, 115 of them nesting. As the only major wetland on the eastern Adriatic coast, the delta presents a vital stopover for migratory birds travelling on the Adriatic flyway between breeding and wintering grounds.

The water of the Neretva River is also of A-class quality and it is one of the coldest rivers in the world. The average annual water temperature is 8-10 oC. The dissolved oxygen concentration is between 9 and 10 mg/L, which is why the Neretva and its tributaries are exceptionally rich in fish species. Out of almost 150 species that use the watercourse and/or estuary at some stage of their life, 49 are freshwater fish and of them as many as 19 are endemic to the catchment area of Eastern Adriatic, while 4 are endemic to Croatia.

Neretva Delta covers six geographically defined areas with total of 1 624 ha and one mineralprotected in accordance with the Nature Protection Act (OG 80/13, 15/18, 14/19 and 127/19):

  • Special Ornithological Reserves Pod Gredom, Prud and Orepak
  • Special icthyological-ornithological reserve Neretva Delta – south eastern part
  • Significant landscapes of Predolac-Šibenik, Modro oko and Lake Desna
  • Protected mineral –stone balls

It has been declared an area of Natura 2000 ecological network of particular importance to the European Union as a Conservation area for birds and a Conservation Area significant for species and habitats.

Why it is important for this project?

Despite the large-scale disturbance of birds and fish and the destruction and degradation of wetlands in the past and today Neretva River still represents an ecologically unique area. That is one of the reasons why we choose this area. Moreover, the whole project area, especially its fragile karst and wetland ecosystems, is threatened by various activities, such as: anthropogenic impacts on freshwater ecosystems and global climate change.

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