Montenegro’s Bistrica River Joins Growing List of Legally Protected Rivers in the Western Balkans

The Municipal Assembly of Bijelo Polje voted today to bolster the status of Đalovića Gorge as a Natural Monument, marking a significant milestone for sustainable river protection in Montenegro. Following an initiative to protect the Bistrica River, launched by a coalition of environmental groups including Eco-Team and The Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Protection Agency of Montenegro evaluated the natural and geological values of the area and recommended strengthening the gorge’s protection. 

Today’s decision marks the beginning of work to implement the full legal protection measures for the area. While the gorge was originally recognized in 1968 for its geological and landscape values, there were no legal requirements for management. By confirming the designation of Đalovića Gorge and the Bistrica River as a Natural Monument, the Municipality is now legally obligated to establish an Agency for the Management of Protected Areas in Bijelo Polje and ensure the effective management of Đalovića Gorge. 

“The Bijelo Polje Municipality is steadfast in our commitment to preserving our natural heritage and we are glad that the revision and strengthening of the legal status of Đalovića Gorge Natural Monument was successfully completed. The decision by the Municipal Assembly underscores our dedication to nature conservation and collaboration with all relevant institutions and civil society organizations.  We look forward to continuing our fruitful cooperation with Eco-Team and The Nature Conservancy to ensure that future generations can enjoy the beauty of Đalovića Gorge and the Bistrica River,” said Armin Sijarić, Acting Secretary of the Secretariat for Rural and Sustainable Development of Bijelo Polje Municipality.  

Located in northeast Montenegro, the Bistrica River has carved the Đalovića Gorge: a place of astonishing beauty and home to a large diversity of species and habitats. The newest revision covers a protected area of 344 hectares and includes the gorge and parts of the Bistrica River, known and named for its clear water. The protected area is an important spawning area for the endangered Danube salmon and home to a variety of fish including brown trout and grayling. It is also a haven for flyfishing and canyoning, attracting visitors from all over Montenegro and beyond. 

The enhanced protection for Bistrica builds on the momentum started by the declaration of Montenegro’s Zeta River Nature Park in 2019 and is a significant win for the United for Rivers initiative. The coalition, launched in 2023, is working to protect 400 kilometers of rivers across five Western Balkan countries. The initiative announced legal protection for Croatia’s Mrežnica and Tounjčica rivers earlier this month and is also working to secure protected status for Montenegro’s Ćehotina, Morača, and Mrtvica rivers before the end of the year. 

“We are proud to have supported the municipality of Bijelo Polje in their efforts to revise and strengthen the protection of Đalovića Gorge and the Bistrica River, helping make today’s decision possible. This decision will enhance conservation efforts in the area and facilitate its management. TNC remains dedicated to supporting the municipality, local communities, and other relevant stakeholders in the management of the area, ensuring its sustainability and the implementation of best management practices. Our long-term goal is to create a conservation model that serves as an example of nature conservation practices in Montenegro and the broader region,” said Igor Vejnović, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Southeast Europe at The Nature Conservancy. 

The decision to protect the Đalovića Gorge and the Bistrica River, confirmed today by the Municipal Assembly of Bijelo Polje, follows a thorough review and marks a significant stride in our endeavors to safeguard Montenegro’s natural heritage for posterity. By enacting this decision, we collectively pledge to manage this area sustainably and responsibly, ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty and biodiversity. With the support of local and scientific communities, alongside pertinent institutions and international organizations, we remain dedicated to crafting sustainable initiatives aimed at the conservation and promotion of this natural monument,” said Milija Čabarkapa, Director of Eco-Team. 

Building on ongoing work to establish sustainable management of the Zeta River Nature Park, The Nature Conservancy and Eco-Team will work with the new Agency to develop a management plan and help with staffing and training to help secure the future of the Bistrica River and Đalovića Gorge. This work is made possible by the support of the Wyss Foundation and Enterprise Mobility Foundation.


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

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Regional Initiative Aims to Protect Up to 400 Kilometres of Rivers Across Southeast Europe

United for Rivers, a regional initiative dedicated to protecting 13 rivers across Southeast Europe, was launched today. By prioritizing the engagement of local communities, The Nature Conservancy and six partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia aim to safeguard the ecological, social, and cultural values of freshwater ecosystems in the region by establishing new river protected areas.



The Nature Conservancy and Public Institution Natura Viva Join Forces to Protect the Mrežnica River in Croatia

By signing the Memorandum of Understanding today, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Public Institution Natura Viva agree to work together on the establishment of new protected areas along the Mrežnica River in Croatia. Apart from jointly contributing to the protection of the river, both organizations recognize the need for new scientific research in the area, joint action toward national-level decision makers, and encouraging local community engagement.



One Step Closer to Veliki Rzav River Special Nature Reserve

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