Slovenia names intermittent karst lake for third Ramsar site

06/02/2006



Lake Cerknica added to the Ramsar List

The Secretariat is very pleased to announce that the government of Slovenia has designated its third Wetland of International Importance, another one in which the distinctive karst landscape of the region has played an essential role. Cerkniško jezero z okolico (Lake Cerknica and its environs) (7,250 hectares, 45º45'N 014º23'E), already a Natura 2000 site, an Ecologically Important Area, and a Regional Park, is the largest and most typical intermittent karst lake in its region. As described by Ramsar's Dorothea August from the Ramsar Information Sheet, the lake is formed during rainy periods when the volume of water can no longer be drained through sinkholes, and the lake has no surface outflow, discharging exclusively underground. Numerous picturesque karst phenomena, such as karst sources, estavelles, ponors and ponor caves, abound, and the Križna cave is renowned for its underground lakes; the Rakov Škocjan valley, formed by the collapse of ceilings of underground caves, and the River Rak are fed mainly by water from the lake. These special habitats support many rare and endemic species, such as cave beetle and cave salamander, and the lake is the only nesting site in Slovenia for the red-necked grebe, the redshank and the ferruginous duck as well as a breeding place for the corncrake. Remains of Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, and Iron Age settlements are found on Gorica Island in the middle of the lake, as well as prehistoric settlements from the 12th to the 4th centuries BC and a Roman necropolis nearby. Frequent, unpredictable flooding makes intensive agriculture impossible, but pasture and forest uses are widespread, besides some small recreation grounds; appropriate tourist facilities are needed to avoid adverse effects of unorganised tourism.

Ramsar's Senior Advisor for Europe, Tobias Salathé, attended World Wetland Day ceremonies in the town of Cerknica to celebrate the designation, and his report on the festivities can be seen here.

This is Ramsar site no. 1600 and there are now 1590 Wetlands of International Importance on the Ramsar List. Further information about the Regional Park in which Cerknica Lake is located can be found at http://www.notranjski-park.si.

Photos courtesy Notranjski Regijski Park, 2005.

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