Two new Ramsar sites in the Republic of Serbia
Serbia names two Wetlands of International Importance
The Ramsar Secretariat is extremely pleased to announce that the Republic of Serbia has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, one in Vojvodina along the Danube River, the other in the karst region in the southwest of the country. Serbia now has six Ramsar sites, covering a surface area of 28,025 hectares. Ramsar's Dorothea August has prepared brief descriptions of the two site based on the RIS information supplied by the Ministry of Science and Environmental Protection.
Labudovo okno (3,733 hectares, 44°48'N 021°18'E) in Vojvodina is already an Important Bird Area (IBA) and Special Nature Reserve. Marking the southern margin of the Pannonian Plain, the site encompasses an important stretch of the Danube and adjacent areas as well as the Nera River to the border with Romania. Following the construction of the Iron Gate reservoir, the Danube water level rose and the river flow slowed down, causing the flooding of many river islets, lower coastal parts, and lagoons along the southern areas in the Deliblatska pecara Sands and created new aquatic and wetlands habitats. Permanent rivers and freshwater marshes are the main wetlands types, comprising diverse aquatic and wetland communities as well as wet meadows and steppe pastures along the riverbanks. Shallow waters of the Danube provide an ideal spawning area for many of the 50 supported fish species, such as Silurus glanis, Stizostedion lucioperca and Acipenser ruthenus. The site is an important waterbird habitat, especially as a nesting and wintering site for a range of species such as pygmy cormorants Phalacrocorax pygmeus, little egret Egretta garzetta, white-fronted goose Anser albifrons, and common goldeneye Bucephala clangula. Besides the strict protection zone and small-scale forestry mainly on river islets, the site is mainly used for agricultural activities based on cattle and sheep grazing. Ramsar site no. 1655.
Petersko polje (3,455 hectares, 43°05'N 002°07'E) is situated at about 1150m altitude on the Sjenica-Peter Plateau in southwestern Serbia.The site, which is part of the country's largest karst area, supports an extremely rare example of a specific wet peatbog habitat for this biogeographic region, including non-forested peatlands, permanent rivers, and seasonal freshwater marshes on inorganic soils. The Borotica River and Lake are the most important hydrographic units and form the shape of pastures and natural ecosystems. Due to these conditions the site supports a number of endangered species, such as the plants Fumana bonapartei, Halacsya sendtneri and Orchis tridentata, and also provides habitat and refuge to a number of birds during unfavourable periods, such as during breeding season for the Montagu's harrier Circus pygargus, of which the only nesting place in Serbia is found in this area. The land use of the site is entirely based on traditional cattle breeding, with related pasturing meadow management. The ongoing draining and exploitation of peatbogs poses an important conservation issue for future management. Because of its isolated situation and the economy based on cattle breeding, a culture of Muslims and Christians has developed in the villages over centuries, and many of the traditional local dishes, particularly a wide variety of pies, are much appreciated. Ramsar site no. 1656.