Lower Neretva transboundary cooperation


Progress on the collaboration for the Neretva River

In a meeting held in the Ramsar site of Hutovo blato of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) on 3 May 2003, momentous decisions were taken to implement transboundary collaboration on the Neretva River and its wetlands.

The participants included from the BiH side Tahir Dulic, Minister, and Vesna Covic, Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Civil Engineering, Urban Planning and Environmental Protection of the Herzegovina - Neretva Canton, as well as water management officials and the director of the Hutovo blato management body; from Croatia Ivan Martinic, Assistant Minister, and Eugen Draganovic, Head of Protected Areas Section Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning; and from MedWet, Thymio Papayannis, Senior Advisor.

The example of the transboundary Prespa Park was presented and analysed during the meeting, and it was agreed that it was a valid model to adopt. The three studies that have been carried out in relation to the Neretva (the pilot work on the Lower Neretva within the framework of the MedWet2 LIFE Third Countries project in 1996-1998, the LIFE project on Hutovo blato and the Ramsar SGF project on transboundary collaboration, the last two just completed) were discussed, as they provide very useful information and conclusions, complemented by work on orthophotography and GIS mapping of the area, funded by the Spanish government.

After a thorough debate on technical and administrative issues concerning the Neretva area, the following actions were agreed:

- Signature on 6 June 2003 of a memorandum of collaboration between the two countries (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Croatia), supported by the Principality of Monaco and Ramsar / MedWet.

- Establishment of a 7-member Neretva Co-ordination Committee to implement the collaboration consisting of three members from each side (representing the central authorities, local government and NGOs), with MedWet as an observer.

- Convening of the first meeting of the Committee, as soon as its members are appointed, by MedWet.

- Priority given to the preparation of a Strategic Action Plan, based on the previous studies for the area and on similar work done for the Prespa Park.

Finally, representatives of the two states expressed their wish to attend the next meeting of the Prespa Park Coordination Committee to understand better its role and operation. The meeting ended by a field visit by boat of the Hutovo blato site.

-- reported by Thymio Papayannis, MedWet Senior Advisor

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