New marine protected area for Croatia
The newly created Lastovo Nature Park, off the south-east coast of Croatia, covers an area of some 200km˛, of which around 60km˛ is land surface consisting of 44 islands.
© Ivana Carev / SUNCE
More on marine protected areas
WWF's conservation work in the Mediterranean
WWF Global Marine Programme
19 Oct 2006
Zagreb, Croatia A new marine protected area has been created in Croatia, following years of advocacy work by WWF and a local environmental group.
The establishment of the Lastovo Nature Park, situated in the central Dalmatian archipelago in south-east Croatia off the coast of Dubrovnik, covers an area of some 200km2, of which around 60km2 is land surface consisting of 44 islands. It boasts a diverse landscape, including rich marine biodiversity, rare and endemic plant and animal species, holm oak forests, as well as valuable archeological sites and a rich socio-cultural heritage. Originally settled by the Romans, Lastovo is noted for its 15th and 16th century architecture.
The park becomes the eighth marine protected area in Croatia, and the second largest in the country.
In 2003, WWF and the Association for Nature, Environment and Sustainable Development of Croatia (SUNCE) identified the Lastovo archipelago as a priority area for the conservation of Mediterranean biodiversity. Intensive advocacy and collaboration over the past few years garnered local support, which was vital for the initiation of the political process of declaring this a protected area.
"We are delighted at this announcement," said Zrinka Jakl of SUNCE. "The new nature park will empower the local people of Lastovo to take care of their own environment, thereby allowing the natural assets of this unique archipelago to be preserved."
The next challenge is to develop a management plan for the park that will focus on conservation as well as the economic development of the local community.
Since the end of the Second World War, nearly 50 per cent of the Mediterranean's 46,000km-long shoreline has been lost to urbanisation, mostly tourism related. The Mediterranean is the world's leading tourist destination, with an estimated 350 million holidaymakers expected to flock to the region anually by 2020.
"This will increase an already huge strain on resources like water supply, and create massive waste and pollution," said Alessandra Pomč of WWF's Mediterranean Programme Office.
"The creation of Lastovo Nature Park is a big step towards preserving the last pockets of paradise in the Mediterranean. We look forward to continue working together with SUNCE and other stakeholders in safeguarding the outstanding environment of the Eastern Mediterranean for the benefit of future generations."
WWF believes that the newly created marine protected area will pave the way in the Mediterranean for encouraging alternatives to mass tourism, and avoiding major industrial development and illegal building projects. It is also an opportunity for local economic development through sustainable tourism.
For further information:
Gemma Parkes, Communications Officer
Tel: +39 06 8449 7 224
Zrinka Jakl, SUNCE
Tel: +385 21 360 779
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