National and Natural parks

more than a year ago

For those liking life with a little spice, the landscape of Croatia provides a depth and variety to keep all comers happy. Stretched like a bored schoolgirl’s bubble gum around the knuckle of Bosnia, this elongated country encompasses all brands of environment and geology. From the fertile farming land and river-plains of Slavonija, (where, it is said, the highest point is the top of the nearest pumpkin), as the rich soil approaches the capital and the surrounding counties of Zagrebačka županija (Zagreb County) it starts to rise and fall. Going onwards west and then south down the spindly leg of Dalmatia, the world becomes barren, towering and increasingly dramatic as the sparse granite mountains plunge into the sparkling Adriatic, which surrounds the many small Mediterranean islands that have been spat out by the mainland.
Twenty three percent of Croatia is covered by forest. Unfortunately, as is common throughout much of the world, a lot of it is under threat; up to 50% of wood land is having acid rain dumped on it courtesy of their dear neighbours. Added to such rough treatment are the one thousand hectares per year that are torn down for logging or building projects. Eco warriors should also be armed with water buckets as in the last 25 years, fires have destroyed a whopping 7 % of Croatia’s forests. With such a wealth of potential, cringing under these risks, it is surprising that only 7.5% of the entire state territory is protected by national park status, although there is intent for that figure to rise to 15% in the near future. Hence a myriad of opportunities for those wishing to walk, breathe or explore more active pursuits in the springtime shine. Therefore ZIYP, humble serfs that we are, is here to lay all this wondrous nature before you like a royal feast, so you may pick out the morsels that take your fancy.

Kopački rit
In the far east of the country, tucked into a corner past Osijek known as Baranja where the Drava and Danube rivers meet is the national park Kopački Rit; one of the largest natural marshes in Europe. This large flat area acts as a flood plain for the two rivers. When not completely bogged down by by these bullies, the area includes a myriad of channels and lakes that act as a conduit for the swapping of juices between the two larger bodies of water.

Naturally these conditions ensure a richness of soil and nutrients, which support hundreds of varieties of flora. Meanwhile, the generally awkward environment keeps out the more destructive elements of the animal kingdom; that’s us of course; making it the perfect haven for many species of fauna. The bird life in the area is especially attractive, including heron, storks and wild duck, who battle it out for the highest stoop with rare falcons and eagles.

Evidently humans would never stand for being left out altogether and there are a few small villages in the park. In Kopačevo one can see traditional farming in the Baranja style abd study ancient crafts such as the construction of fishing nets and traps or even how to cook up the quarry once your nets and traps have done their wicked deeds. Moving onwards the determination of the Hapsburgs to invade all corners of central Europe is evidenced by the Tikveš manor house. However, since the mid 1990s the house has been closed to the public.

Lonjsko polje
When travelling down the main highway from Zagreb towards Slavonski Brod, should you feel the need to go flying off the road on a sharp bend then we suggest you do this around Kutina and head for the right, as then you will have a lovely soft landing, although you may get a little damp, as you’ll be landing in a swamp – Lonjsko polje. The 506km2 of meadows and forests are grazed alternatively by cattle and by fish, depending on whether the area is flooded or not – and in spring it will be. The area contains three marshes and navigable canals.


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