Karlovac County Assembly Votes for the Protection of the Mrežnica and Tounjčica Rivers

In a groundbreaking decision, the Karlovac County Assembly has officially confirmed the protection of the Mrežnica and Tounjčica rivers in Croatia and the establishment of two new protected areas, marking a significant milestone in the county’s nature conservation efforts. The decision was reached today following an initiative led by the Public Institution for Nature Protection Natura Viva and supported by the Karlovac County and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

The newly designated protected areas result from the longstanding efforts to preserve the two rivers, something the local communities have been calling for decades. These areas mark the first official protection for two rivers under the United for Rivers initiative, which aims to preserve more than 400 kilometers of rivers across five countries of Southeast Europe.

The decision to establish a monument of nature in the upper course of the river, and a significant landscape in its middle course, holds great importance for both nature and local communities, as it ensures the implementation of conservation measures on one of the most spectacular rivers in Croatia, providing sanctuary for diverse plant and animal species, and protecting over a hundred tufa waterfalls this river is known for.

“We are pleased with the large number of people who were involved in the public consultation during the declaration process for the protection of the Mrežnica River. We hope that local communities will continue to show interest in protecting this area to ensure its sustainable management and the preservation of important species and habitats. We still have a lot of work that can only be accomplished through constant communication and the inclusion of all stakeholders in the process, finding joint solutions based on nature”, said Antonija Bišćan, director of the Public Institution Natura Viva.

This decision is not merely a legal designation; it is a promise to safeguard the natural beauty, biodiversity, and social and cultural significance of Mrežnica and Tounjčica.

“Residents of Karlovac County appreciate their rivers, and the Mrežnica is special in that regard. We affectionately refer to it as ‘a beauty,’ ‘a pearl,’ a truly unique and magical river. Therefore, I believe that this is a significant step in our efforts to preserve the Mrežnica River for generations to come. We aim to ensure sustainable management of this valuable natural resource in collaboration with relevant ministries, the non-governmental sector, and the local community. This decision puts us on the right path to achieve it,” stated Martina Furdek Hajdin, Karlovac County Prefect.

The protected areas will play an important role in preserving the natural and social values of the river, offering sustainable recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike while preserving important habitats and species.

“The Nature Conservancy views the protection of Mrežnica and Tounjčica as flagships and exemplary models aligning with our strategy for durable river protection. Engaging closely with local communities through our United for Rivers initiative, we recognize them as the backbone of river conservation and the sustainable use of river resources. We are delighted to witness the successful protection of Mrežnica and Tounjčica, and proud to contribute to this process. We are fully committed to providing ongoing support for the continuing conservation of these rivers and we hope this milestone will inspire other countries in the region to strengthen their river conservation efforts,” concluded Irma Popović Dujmović, TNC Freshwater Program Director for Croatia.


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