Bardača (2000 – 2013)
The Bardača wetland is located in the northern part of the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the border with Croatia. Due to its natural characteristics (climatic, hydrological, pedologic, etc.) it represents a unique natural complex on a wider geographical area.
Back in 1969 all colonies of wetland birds in Bardača area were put under protection, and Dr Svjetoslav Obratil, exploring the Bardača area in 1973, found that it was a special habitat for wetland birds. The devastation of this area in the war, and especially in the post-war period, resulted in near complete destruction of the natural habitats of the wetland birds that inhabit this area and that should be the main subject of protection.
For this reason, after establishing the presence of 185 bird species during new research in 2001, Mladi istraživači started with the activities in order to declare this area protected. According to the Ramsar Convention, Bardača was declared as a wetland of world importance in February 2007. The next goal was to put this area under protection within the legal regulations of the Republic of Srpska.
However, instead of protection, from 2010 to 2012 a large devastation occurred in the wetland area of Bardača, partly caused by the extremely dry summer of 2011, but mostly due to the decision of the owner of Agroimpeks to turn fishponds into arable land. Of eleven lakes in total, only three lakes (Rakitovac, Sinjak and Mali Dajkovac) retained water while other lakes were drained or converted into arable land. On the lakes Dugo Polje I, Dugo Polje II and Lug trees were cut down and stumps were taken out, which represents inestimable damage, as these trees served as nesting areas for many bird species. Recent observations have identified a small number of bird species as well as a small number of individuals.
For all mentioned above, the area of Bardača has lost the basic characteristics, due to which it has enjoyed the status of a special nature reserve since 1969.
In the period from 2012 to 2018, the Ministry of Spacial Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska, at the initiative of Center for Environment, conducted the procedure of declaring prior protection. At the end of 2017, the procedure ended with the Conclusion on the suspension of the proclamation procedure. Considering the mentioned Ministry should have invested more energy in this procedure, Center for Environment addressed them with a letter stating that Bardača protection should still be put in place.
Today, after several unsuccessful attempts to proclaim the so-called previous protection, Bardača is left to the owners to carry out activities that are not in line with the principles of protection and preservation of valuable natural areas.
The fight for the protection of Bardača is one of the first battles of Center for Environment, and is still in progress.
“This is the proof that competent institutions do not have the power nor the will to preserve this rare international wetland habitat we have, but we are not giving it up. Revival of Bardača is possible by establishing cooperation, sustainable water supply of fishponds and restarting fish production.”
Viktor Bjelic, vice president of Center for the Environment and one of the initiators of the protection of Bardača