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SAVA RIVER BASIN - Protection of Biodiversity of the Sava River Basin Floodplains

LIFE06 TCY/INT/000246

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Tamas MARGHESCU
Tel: +32 2 739 03 12

Project description:


The Sava River is the second largest tributary of the Danube River and of ecological significance because of its outstanding biological and landscape diversity. It hosts the largest complex of alluvial floodplain wetlands in the Danube basin and the largest lowland forests. The Sava is a unique example of a river where the floodplains are still intact, supporting both floods alleviation and biodiversity. It has been selected as a focal area in the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS).

Management of the Sava needs to reconcile local economic development needs with the long-term protection of the landscape and biodiversity along the river’s banks. The Sava Basin Commission was established in June 2005 aiming at sustainable water resource management and to address flood, drought, and pollution issues. A priority task was to prepare an Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) Plan in line with the European Water Framework Directive.

However, a major challenge comes from the fact that the Sava river basin is shared by four countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia - and the level of capacity of the state institutions and the quality of available data on species and habitats varies significantly. This situation has been exacerbated by political instability in the Balkans.


The SAVA RIVER BASIN project aimed to support the elaboration of an IRBM plan for the River Sava and build management capacity for the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives in the Sava countries. It thus sought to promote the overall objective of protecting and managing the unique landscape and biodiversity along the Sava River whilst supporting the development of rural tourism.

Key actions for the achievement of this goal were to be:

    • identifying the most valuable sites for biodiversity;
    • formulating criteria for their management and protection;
    • identifying floodplain areas capable of storing floodwater to alleviate flooding;
    • designing a coherent trans-boundary ecological network of protected areas, buffer zones, and corridors;
    • ensuring land-use practices support the protection of landscape and biodiversity;
    • increasing knowledge and understanding of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives;
    • identifying opportunities and elaborating a strategy for developing rural tourism; and
    • raising awareness of the need to protect and manage the unique landscape and biodiversity along the Sava through trans-boundary cooperation.


    The SAVA RIVER BASIN project has been very successful in supporting the Sava Basin countries in identifying, designating and managing the biological and landscape diversity along the Sava River. It has demonstrated the value of national and trans-boundary co-operation in the protection of biodiversity.

    During the project, local experts from all four Sava countries worked together with support from international experts within four cross-border working groups on: biodiversity; land-use; GIS; and awareness raising. Project partners worked together well with researchers, farmers and stakeholders to achieve the project’s activities.

    The biodiversity working group conducted field research and gathered data on the distribution of selected Natura 2000 species and habitats along the Sava River. This enabled them to identify 49 important sites for biodiversity conservation.

    The group identified the main threats to biodiversity along the Sava and drafted restoration plans for 6 sites under particular threat. It jointly elaborated national interpretation manuals for Natura 2000 habitats, taking into account local biodiversity. It is hoped that this initial design stage will enable the relevant authorities to establish and maintain a fully functioning trans-boundary ecological network along the river.

    The land-use working group assessed existing and traditional land-use practices in the area and their intensity. The group interviewed 53 local farmers and stakeholders concerning their current and planned farming activities. The group found high interest in maintaining traditional and environmentally friendly forms of agriculture, but that state support was needed to facilitate this.

    The group recommended using traditional autochthonous breeds to support the protection of agro-biodiversity and create new market opportunities from specially branded agricultural products. It also recommended a trans-border Action Plan to halt the dispersal of invasive species and a joint plan for sustainable tourism development along the Sava.

    A key output of the project was a database containing comprehensive data about biodiversity, existing and potential threats, and recommendations for management measures. The public can access some of the GIS information and maps on the Sava DATAportal, whilst partners and experts have full access to all data. It will be updated by the partners after the project to facilitate ongoing co-operation.

    The awareness working group elaborated the Sava Communication Strategy. It collated a database of more than 150 Sava stakeholders and associated communication approaches. The project produced various communication materials and held stakeholder events.

    The project results might encourage and support the Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) and other relevant authorities in looking more deeply to biodiversity aspects of future river basin management.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - River basin management
Habitats - Freshwater


landscape protection‚  nature conservation

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator IUCN - The World Conservation Union
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description The IUCN - or World Conservation Union - is the world’s largest conservation network. It brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 NGOs and thousands of independent experts from 181 countries. It aims to influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature.
Partners State Institute for Nature Protection, Croatia PMF-CEPRES, Bosnia-Herzegovina The Agricultural Institute of the Republic of Srpska, Croatia Institute for Nature Conservation, Serbia


Project reference LIFE06 TCY/INT/000246
Duration 01-JAN-2007 to 31-DEC -2009
Total budget 863,940.00 €
EU contribution 601,210.00 €
Project location Bosnia Herzegovina (BIH)(Bosnia Herzegovina) Mediterr. Croatia (CRO)(Croatia Hrvatska)


Read more:

Brochure Project leaflet (SRB-BiH) (410KB)
Brochure Project leaflet (SRB) (297KB)
Brochure Project leaflet (en) (260KB)
Brochure Project Leaflet (CRO) (210KB)
Brochure Project conference brochure (480KB)
Brochure Project brochure (EN/SRB)(788KB)
Brochure Project Brochure (777KB)
Leaflet "Protection of Biodiversity of the Sava River Basi ...
Newsletter Život duž Save - Newsletter issue July 2008 (local ...
Newsletter Life along the Sava - Newsletter issue March 2008 ...
Poster "Turopolje pig" (3.66MB)(EN/CRO)
Poster "Srem Podolian cattle" (2.10MB) (en/bosnian)
Poster "Slavonian-Srijem Podolian cattle" (1.51MB)
Poster "Protection of biodiversity of the Sava River Basi ...
Poster "Mangulica pig" (4.36MB) (En/Cro)
Poster "Posavina horse" (2.91MB)
Poster Project Comic Poster (bosnian) (277KB)
Project web site Project's website (EN)
Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version