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INHERITURA certificate: Areas in Croatia that received it

INHERITURA certificate was awarded this year to Mljet National Park as the fifth destination in Croatia that met all the necessary conditions. Certificates are awarded to Mediterranean areas for sustainability and environmental protection and for the preservation and valorization of natural heritage in coastal and marine areas, while respecting the local environment and nature. Each destination that wants to receive the certificate must meet 16 strict environmental protection and sustainability criteria.

Mljet National Park received INHERITURA certificate
Mljet National Park received INHERITURA certificate

In addition to the “youngest” winner of the certificate, there are also the Kornati National Park, the Nin Lagoon – an area of ​​the Natura 2000 ecological network, the Brijuni National Park and Budava Harbor in Ližnjan.

What is an INHERITURA certificate anyway?

The INHERITURA certificate derives from the project called INHERIT “Sustainable tourism strategies for the preservation and valorization of the natural heritage of the Mediterranean coast and coastline” which was created in 2018. The goal of this project is to develop a framework for the sustainable management of areas protected for natural heritage status. The idea of ​​the project is to protect the environment from the negative impact of tourism.

Two models were developed within the framework for sustainable management of protected natural heritage areas. The specific area applying for this certificate must meet 16 criteria divided into 4 categories, namely: Environmental management and protection measures, Valorization and promotional activities, Management and strategic planning, and Education and awareness raising activities. Within the first self-assessment model, individual categories of criteria are analyzed, and this model represents a simpler way of scoring because it represents only the basic level of protection. It enables the bodies that manage the protected natural heritage to independently assess their management from the aspect of sustainability.

The second model, called INHERITURA, is a more advanced method of protection, so each individual criterion is taken into account, and the scoring is more complex. These models were developed in cooperation with 15 partners and 10 Mediterranean countries in order to encourage even better protection of natural assets and raise awareness of the importance of cultural and natural heritage.

The INHERITURA label program covers the coastal areas of 13 European countries on the northern coast of the Mediterranean basin, and includes natural heritage areas of various categories and types. In order to meet the conditions of the INHERITURA program, the areas of the mentioned Mediterranean countries should be located within a region at the NUTS 3 level that has a coastline or more than half of the population lives less than 50 km from the sea, so that they are considered “coastal areas”, and include places of natural heritage of various kinds.

Mljet National Park

Island of Mljet
Island of Mljet

Our latest winner of the INHERITURA certificate is Mljet National Park, which is also the first marine protected area in Croatia. It can boast of 62 years of existence within the protected area, since it was founded way back in 1960. National Park Mljet received the INHERITURA certificate thanks to the fulfillment of all the necessary criteria, but also the beauty that it abounds in, so if you go there you will have the opportunity to visit numerous archaeological sites, cultural buildings, bays, lakes and untouched nature.

This national park is also special in that numerous endemic and endangered species live within its area of ​​almost 5,300 ha (occupying about a third of the entire island of Mljet). A total of 5 species of snakes and 4 species of lizards live in the national park, but there are also several species of bats, hedgehog, fallow deer, wild boar, mouflon, mongoose, marten and many species of birds.

Kornati National Park

Kornati
Kornati

Kornati National Park is the first area in Croatia to win this prestigious ecological certificate. After a one-year period of testing and filling out the application form, Kornati managed to meet a certain number of criteria required to be awarded the INHERITURA certificate.

The Kornati National Park, the first recipient of the INHERITURA certificate, was designated a national park in 1980 due to its exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, large indentation of the coastline and particularly rich biocenoses of the marine ecosystem. The Kornati archipelago covers an area of ​​about 320 km2 and includes about 150 land units, permanently or occasionally above sea level.

Kornati attracts the most attention with its speleological facilities. Caves and pits are important for the biological diversity of this area. In addition to a number of specificities, they also contain a number of faunal rarities (eg endemic species) in their ecosystems. Previous research has shown very interesting findings of stygobiont animals (underground aquatic animals), both in the layer of brackish water and in the sea water of the deeper parts of the researched pits. The finding of the endemic species of crustaceans Niphargus pectencoronatae and Niphargus hebereri was confirmed.

Nin Lagoon – Natura 2000 ecological network area

Nin
Nin

The winner of the INHERITURA certificate is the Nin Lagoon, and there is a good reason for that – the entire area of ​​Nin and its surroundings is a unique landscape of rare plant and animal species with 8 NATURA 2000 habitats, 5 endemic, 4 critically endangered, 1 endangered and 5 sensitive plants.

There are coastal lagoons here; Mediterranean nettles with their own species coastal nettle, sharp nettle, coastal starfish, spikelet; Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic vegetation of halophilic shrubs with characteristic species of glasswort shrubs, littoral ash, littoral oman; embryonic coastal dunes with characteristic species of spiny stilts, head stilts, coastal and littoral milkweed; rocks and cliffs of the Mediterranean coast overgrown with endemic species of Limonium spp.

Salt fields
Salt fields

The most important area is certainly the salt flat, which is an artificial marsh, and as such serves as a nesting ground for the kingfisher bird. On the salt flats of Nin, there is a critically endangered species of sea urchin (Charadrius alexandrinus) nesting. There is also a critically endangered species and that is the blue-footed swordfish (Recurvirostra avosetta). The endangered golden plover (Pluvialis squatarolaa) winters here, the first specimens of which can be seen in mid-September and early October, and the low-risk three-toed golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria) was recorded during the autumn migration. There are also numerous herons, great and little crows and other terns.

Brijuni National Park and Budava Harbor in Ližnjan

Brijuni INHERITURA certificate
Brijuni
Source: Igor Karasi / Shutterstock

Winners of the INHERITURA certificate are even two areas in Istria – Brijuni and the Public Institution Natura Histrica for the location of Luka Budava in Ližnjan. Director Silvia Buttignoni accepted the certificate on behalf of Natura Histrica and said: 2 We are proud and happy that Natura Histrica was one of the first in the Republic of Croatia to receive this recognition because it indicates the importance of preserving the untouched nature of the area that will be left to future generations. In this way, the area of ​​the ecological network Luka Budava – Istria is positioned at the level of the two national parks Brijuni and Kornati, which also received this recognition. On behalf of the Brijuni National Park, the INHERITURA certificate was received by director Marno Milotić, who said that it is necessary to protect the area of ​​the Brijuni National Park by limiting the number of visitors and the impact on the very nature of the area in order to preserve the endangered natural world that cannot be replaced.

Preservation of the environment as the main task of national parks

Croatia is a country rich in natural beauty and enchanting animal and plant life that needs to be preserved. Especially from irresponsible visitors who sometimes do not understand the damage they do by leaving waste in nature. Also, even though it is a tourist country that invites new guests every year to whom it wants to present its contents – we must not forget that such rare areas need to be preserved because there is no way to restore them if they were ever to be destroyed.

Croatia is a land of many nature beauties
Croatia is a land of many nature beauties

National parks in Croatia occupy a large part of the area, which shows that Croats are aware of the importance of preserving the environment in their country. INHERITURA certificates are another way to raise even more awareness of the importance of nature and endemic species, of which there are quite a few in Croatia. Fulfilling the conditions required by the certificate encourages even better conservation management of such important natural areas as national parks.

If you, as a tourist, find yourself in Croatia and want to visit one of the national parks that we have presented to you today, remember that responsible behavior in nature is a guarantee that you will return to particularly beautiful places many more times.

Your CTC Team, A. M. 

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