Croatia’s dedication to conservation and the legal protection of its natural goods goes back to the 13th century, when the previously rampant deforestation of Dubrovnik, Korčula, and Trogir was first restricted. By the 19th century, conservation efforts were assisted by experts and systematically researched.
Though Croatia has a relatively small land surface, the country has a large amount of protected land. With 444 protected areas, 9.1% of Croatia is protected. Croatia’s main protected areas include national parks, natural parks, strict reserves, and world heritage sites. Ecologically, Croatia has made great efforts to preserve its biodiversity.
Learn more on our Croatian Family Adventure.
CROATIA PROTECTED AREAS
Eight National Parks
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Krka National Park
- Kornati National Park
- Brijuni National Park
- Mljet National Park
- Northern Velebit National Park
- Paklenica National Park
- Risnjak National Park
Eleven Natural Parks
- Kopački Rit
- Lonjsko Polje
- Žumberak-Samoborsko Gorje
- Vrana Lake
- Lastovsko otočje
Two Strict Reserves
- Bijele and Samarske stijene
- Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi
Seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč
- Historic city of Trogir
- Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian
- Old City of Dubrovnik
- Stari Grad Plain, Hvar
- The Cathedral of St James of Šibenik
CRES-LOŠINJ MARINE PROTECTED AREA
Lošinj Dolphin Reserve
The Lošinj Dolphin Reserve, first protected area for dolphins in the Mediterranean, encompasses the eastern waters and coasts of the Lošinj and Cres archipelago and was created to protect the declining bottlenose dolphin population. Moreover, the reserve represents the first marine park reserve created and dedicated to conserving a single Mediterranean dolphin population.
While the region’s bottlenose dolphins headline the protected area, the Lošinj Dolphin Reserve also preserves the habitat of other endangered or vulnerable species in the area such as the Mediterranean loggerhead turtle, sea grass, and coral biocenoses. Furthermore, recent research identified 112 species of fish (19 of which are endangered in Croatia), 303 species of marine invertebrates (9 protected, 7 strictly protected), and 152 species of marine flora.
CONSERVING GEOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
Croatia’s conservation efforts and protection of nature extend to its geological and landscape diversity—a diversity of rock, minerals, fossils, soil, relief forms, underground structures, and the natural processes through which they were and continue to be created.
Croatia has a long history of geodiversity protection, with the Cave Protection Act ratified as early as 1900. Currently, Croatia protects 50 geological formations and/or localities, with 49 considered “nature monuments.” Further, the Karst Ecosystem Conservation Project—put forth to protect the biodiversity of Croatia’s karst ecosystems—developed sustainable tourism practices and strengthened protected area management.
CROATIA CONSERVATION CONCERNS
Croatian conservation efforts are vulnerable to the widespread conservation threats of invasive species, climate change, and habitat fragmentation.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection considers Croatia’s most vulnerable regions to be the following:
- the Dinaric Alps region, with pre-Alpine, Alpine, and circumpolar vegetation most endangered
- Mediterranean Croatia, with the karst river basin estuaries most endangered
- the south Adriatic Islands, whose endemic flora and fauna have limited migration potential
Fun Fact: In Croatia, the term “conservation” is often applied to the conservation of cultural goods rather than natural resources. If that’s right up your alley, check out the Croatian Conservation Institute’s webpage to see how Croatia’s protecting its cultural heritage.