Implementation of the NBSAP
The first National Strategy and Action Plan for the Protection of Biological and Landscape Diversity of Croatia was adopted in 1999, and the second in 2008. The current strategy and action plan includes seven general strategic objectives: (1) conserve overall biological, landscape and geological diversity as an underlying value and potential for further development of the Republic of Croatia; (2) meet all obligations arising from the process of integration into the European Union and alignment of the national legislation with the relevant EU directives and regulations (Habitats Directive, Birds Directive, CITES Regulations); (3) fulfil the obligations arising from international treaties in the field of nature protection, biosafety, access to information, etc.; (4) ensure integral nature protection through cooperation with other sectors; (5) establish and evaluate the state of the biological, landscape and geological diversity, set up a nature protection information system with a database connected to the state’s information system; (6) encourage promotion of institutional and non-institutional ways to educate the public about biodiversity, and improve public participation in decision-making processes; and (7) develop legislation implementation mechanisms by strengthening legislative and institutional capacities, education, development of scientific resources, information, and the development of funding mechanisms. Action plans for implementing these objectives are associated with a competent authority, potential implementing authorities, urgency, possible funding sources, as well as correlated with other actions.
Croatia intends to complete, by 2014, a comparative analysis of its targets vis-à-vis the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, and to further update the National Strategy and Action Plan for the Protection of Biological and Landscape Diversity in accordance with these findings.
Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets
Important progress has been made in relation to inventorying and evaluating biological and landscape diversity, developing legislative and institutional frameworks, and improving the system for protecting natural values and managing resources.
The establishment of an ecological network in Croatia is prescribed by the Nature Protection Act (OG 80/2013), which identifies such a network as a system of interconnected or spatially close ecologically significant areas, which, by their well-balanced biogeographical distribution, contribute to conservation of biodiversity. Activities undertaken in this regard have resulted in significant improvements in the overall system for biodiversity protection and conservation in Croatia. Achievements include the creation of 33 new protected areas (comprising 11.59% of the national territory), adoption of management plans for 4 national parks and 1 nature park as well as the proclamation of the Natura 2000 network by the Regulation on the Ecological Network (OG 124/13), covering 36.67% of Croatian land territory and 16.39% of its sea territory.
In addition to having established a systematic process for inventorying biological diversity, Croatia has created basic habitat maps for the national territory, and successfully implemented a large number of international projects through various funds, including EU funds.
Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)
Priorities over the last five-year period were tightly associated with the process of acceding to the European Union which occurred in July 2013. In nature protection, this meant harmonizing legislation, including establishing effective enforcement mechanisms, and adopting the proposal for the EU’s Natura 2000 network. The final list of Natura 2000 sites was adopted in September 2013 by the Government, and contains over 700 proposed sites of community importance (pSCIs) (of which 174 sites are caves) and 38 special protected areas (SPAs). Altogether, they cover over a third of the country and around a sixth of the territorial sea, putting Croatia at the top of the league table, along with Slovenia and Bulgaria, in terms of percentage of territory included in Natura 2000.
Between 2000 and 2008, several activities were undertaken to integrate biodiversity conservation into relevant sectors at international, national, regional and local levels. This particularly related to accession to the majority of international environmental agreements and, in particular, integration into regional biodiversity conservation systems. In total, 16 conventions, protocols and agreements in the field of nature protection have been ratified or implemented by Croatia. The country also participated in developing a Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, which expanded the scope of the Convention on Biological Diversity to landscapes.
Administrative strengthening at all levels has occurred. The Nature Protection Directorate was established in 2000 and today is a part of the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection. In 2002, the State Institute for Nature Protection was set up as a central institute to deal with expert tasks on nature conservation in Croatia. In addition, public institutions for the management of protected natural values were established at the county level. Croatia has also established a national legislative framework in the field of nature protection (including the Act on Genetically Modified Organisms) that is compliant with EU legislation. A legislative framework for mainstreaming biodiversity into different policies and sectoral documents (e.g. spatial planning, forestry, hunting, agriculture, fishery) is in place and being implemented, and will be further enhanced with the incorporation of the requirements of the Habitats and Birds Directives into other sectors. General and special provisions and measures in the Nature Protection Act (OG 80/2013) anticipate further activities related to integrating the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into other sectors.
Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation
Created in 2002, the State Institute for Nature Protection is authorized to coordinate inventorying and biodiversity monitoring. Within this framework, the Institute collects, processes and compiles data on the state of nature, drafts reports, maintains databases and prepares expert bases for the protection of individual components of biological and landscape diversity (Habitats distribution map, Natura 2000, Cro Fauna, Cro Speleo and Cro Habitats databases), which will be consolidated into a comprehensive Nature Protection Information System (NPIS). The obligation to create such a system is laid down in the Nature Protection Act (Art. 196) by which the Institute establishes and maintains the NPIS, in compliance with internationally accepted standards and obligations. Work has been carried out to enhance the NPIS by providing it with means to publicly disseminate data maintained within its components, and to upgrade components to be functional with the Croatian National Spatial Data Infrastructure and EU INSPIRE regulations.
The completion of Croatia’s red data lists and books serves as a first step towards standardizing data collection and establishing systematic monitoring protocols.