Restoration project for the Bardaca wetlands

Restoration project for the Bardaca wetlands

5 July 2007
Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Restoration and Rehabilitation of the Wetland Region Bardaca in Bosnia and Herzegovina" -- SGF project completed

The Institute of Agroecology and Soil Sciences of the Faculty of Agriculture in Banja Luka carried out and successfully concluded a Ramsar Small Grants Fund project on the "restoration and rehabilitation of the wetland region Bardaca", composed of fishponds, flood meadows and riverine forests, cultivated land and inhabited areas located in the north where the Sava river forms the border between Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia not far from the confluence with the Vrbas river.

The project addressed the improvement of the national policy in wetland conservation and wise use in terms of elaborating a practical mechanism and scheme for setting up new Ramsar sites in Bosnia & Herzegovina using the Bardaca region as a model territory; furthermore it aimed at designating Bardaca as Wetland of International Importance, strengthening capacity building for its sustainable management and conservation, and promoting public awareness of its value amongst the main stakeholders.

The first phase of the project consisted of collecting data through already existing material and previous studies, pictures, field research and a series of trips to the Lonjsko Polje Ramsar site in nearby Croatia, for consultations and advice from the site manager Goran Gugic. This process allowed to obtain comprehensive set of information and inventories of flora, fauna and socio-economic values that has been further used to elaborate and publish a number of booklets and reports and to compile the Ramsar Information Sheet for the official designation of Bardaca to the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

In November 2006 a two-day workshop was organized in Bardaca. About 35 representatives from the Ministries, the University of the Serb Republic in Banja Luka, natural museums, local authorities, NGOs and landowners contributed together with Mr Gucic, Dorothea August, former assistant advisor for Europe at the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, and Professor Mihajlo Markovic, responsible for the SGF project implementation, to produce and elaborate a draft management plan and methodical recommendations for the designation of Bardaca as a Ramsar site as well as its wise use. The workshop was the occasion to launch the bilingual Serbian-English 24-page booklet "Bardaca-Ecological Values" and to show the movie "Bardaca yesterday-today-tomorrow", produced within the project, which was also presented on the national TV, and a Web site was created to inform the wider public about activities and expected results and for the purpose of continual data dissemination.

The Workshop and the presentation of the video on the national television attracted further media attention. As a result, a series of publications in the local and regional press followed, as well as further statements of pProject experts in the national newspapers, state radio and television stations.

On the 2nd February 2007, World Wetland Day, Bardaca was officially designated as a Ramsar site, no. 1658. This was followed up with a formal designation ceremony on 12 April with the participation of the national Ramsar authorities from the Department of Environmental Protection in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations in Sarajevo (Senad Oprašic, Azra Rogovic, Nermina Skejovic-Huric), of Zdravko Begovic, the Assistant Minister for Ecology of the Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska (one of the two entities forming Bosnia and Herzegovina), and of Mirko Košic, the Major of Srbac, on whose territory the Ramsar site lies. Also Jaroslav Vego, from Mostar, participated, representing the Ministry of Civil Engineering, Physical Planning and Environmental Protection of the other entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On this occasion, a 100-page, bilingual report on the new Ramsar site's physical, hydrological, biological and touristic features, prepared by the project team, was published, including colour maps and photographs.

Congratulations to Mihajlo Markovic and his team of the Institute of Agroecology and Soil Sciences of the Faculty of Agriculture, in Banja Luka, for the extensive work which made a significant contribution to the implementation of the Ramsar Convention involving its three fundamental pillars: "wise use of wetlands", "network of wetlands of international importance" and "international cooperation".

-- Monica Zavagli and Tobias Salathé,
the Ramsar regional team for Europe

Economic aspects of the Ramsar site; angling chalets along one pond for fishing tourists

Small farmsteads in the Ramsar site

Sheep grazing around the harvest ponds of the fish farm (empty at this time of the year)

Commercial fishing

Workshop participants (Left: Iskra Mihic, Bardaca project assistant. On the right: Professor Mihajlo Marcovic and Dorothea August, Ramsar)

Motel, venue for the November 2006 workshop

Pumping station for fishponds