Institutional Framework and Protection Categories

Around the world, continuous efforts in conserving and managing protected and valuable natural areas have been made since 1879, when, for the first time, a natural value was proclaimed a national park. This was the Yellowstone National Park in the United States. At that time, protected natural values were proclaimed solely for reasons of aesthetics and for reasons of landscape, whereas today protected areas have a wider and more useful range of functions.

Greater and more diverse concern for protected natural values began to evolve after the World War II and, in particular, after 1948 when the World Conservation Union was founded. This highly active organisation is today known as the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature – www.iucn.org).

In the Republic of Croatia, the Environmental Protection Act defines the system for protecting and conserving nature and natural values. The Act has established the following categories of protected areas:

  • Strict reserve
  • National park
  • Special reserve
  • Nature park
  • Regional park
  • Natural monument
  • Protected landscape
  • Forest park
  • Park architecture monument.

The Act prescribes that protected areas can be proclaimed by the Croatian Parliament, the Government of the Republic of Croatia, and the county assemblies, depending on the category of protection. Public institutions are established to manage the protected areas. The Government of the Republic of Croatia is responsible for establishing public institutions for the management of national parks and nature parks, while regional self-government units, based on the decisions of county assemblies, establish public institutions for managing the other protected areas.

Categories of Protected Natural Value

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A STRICT RESERVE is a mainland and/or marine area of unaltered or slightly altered nature. It is intended exclusively for the preservation of its original natural character, for scientific research that does not affect biodiversity, for monitoring the condition of nature and for education that does not jeopardise the unhindered development of natural processes. A permit must be obtained from the Ministry for any research of or visits to a strict reserve for educational purposes. All economic and other activities are prohibited in a strict reserve.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: STATE

A NATIONAL PARK is a large, generally unaltered mainland and/or marine area of exceptional and multiple natural values. A national park can be used for scientific, cultural, educational and recreational purposes.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A SPECIAL RESERVE is a mainland and/or marine area of special importance due to its uniqueness, rarity or representativeness or because it is a habitat of threatened wildlife species. As such, it has a special scientific importance and purpose. There are a variety of special reserves: floral reserves, mycological reserves, forest reserves and reserves of other types of vegetation, zoological (ornithological, ichthyological, etc.) reserves, as well as geological, paleontological, hydrogeological, hydrological and marine reserves. No actions or activities are allowed in a special reserve that might degrade the features for which it was proclaimed a reserve. Such actions include picking and destroying plants; disturbing, catching and killing animals; introducing new biological species; undertaking land reclamation; using the reserve for commercial and other purposes, etc.).

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: STATE

A NATURE PARK is a large natural or partly cultivated mainland and/or marine area possessing environmental features of international and national importance, and pronounced landscape, educational, cultural and historical values, as well as values for tourism and recreation. Economic and other activities and actions are allowed in a nature park, providing they do not pose a threat to its essential features and role.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A REGIONAL PARK is a large natural or partly cultivated mainland and/or marine area possessing environmental features of international, national and regional importance, and landscape values characteristic of the area in which it is located. Economic and other activities and actions are allowed in a nature park, providing they do not pose a threat to its essential features and role.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A NATURAL MONUMENT is an individual, unaltered part or group of parts of living and nonliving nature possessing environmental, scientific, aesthetic or educational value. There are different types of natural monuments: geological (paleontological), geomorphological (caves, pits), hydrological (watercourses, waterfalls), botanical (important specimens of plant life, etc.), small-sized botanical and zoological sites, etc. No activities posing a threat to its features and values are allowed on a natural monument or in its immediate vicinity that is a component part of the protected area.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A PROTECTED LANDSCAPE is a natural or cultivated region of great landscape value and biological diversity or of cultural and historical value or a landscape of preserved unique features characteristic of a given area. It can be used for leisure and recreational purposes. According to the Environmental Protection Act, there is also the category of “especially valuable landscape”. In a protected landscape, no activities or actions are allowed that might degrade the features for it was proclaimed a protected area.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

A FOREST PARK is a natural or planted forest of major landscape value, intended for leisure and recreational purposes. Only those actions and activities are allowed that serve to maintain and organise the forest park.

MANAGEMENT LEVEL: COUNTY or LOCAL

PARK ARCHITECTURE MONUMENT is an artificially designed area (a park, botanical garden, an arboretum, city park, tree-rows, as well as other forms of garden and park design), or an individual tree or group of trees, possessing aesthetical, stylistic, artistic, cultural and historical, and environmental or scientific value. No activities or actions are allowed on a park architecture monument that might alter or degrade the values for which it was protected.

Institutional Framework for Managing Protected Natural Values at the County Level

According to the Environmental Protection Act, the activities carried out at the county level in nature protection can be classified into three primary groups. These are:

Administrative activities:

Carried out by the state administration office in the County, these activities relate to establishing the special conditions of nature protection in procedures for issuing location permits for construction and works to be carried out in regional parks, important landscapes, forest parks, and monuments of park architecture, as well as for works beyond the boundaries of the construction area. The administrative activities in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County are conducted by the State Administration Office of the County, Department of Physical Planning, Environmental Protection, Construction and Property-Law Activities graditeljstvo.pgz.hr.

Professional activities:

Carried out by public institutions (in the ownership of either the County or a local self-government unit) engaged in managing protected areas, these activities relate to collecting and processing data pertaining to nature protection, creating databases, monitoring the state of conservation and proposing protection measures, preparing expert background studies for establishing the conditions of nature protection and the management and use of natural assets, performing statistical analysis and compiling reports on the state of nature protection, preparing and implementing projects and programs in the field of nature protection, and organising and conducting educational and promotional activities in nature protection.

Activities in managing protected natural values:

Carried out by public institutions (in the ownership of either the County or a local self-government unit) engaged in managing protected areas, these activities relate to maintaining and promoting protected areas, supervising the execution of conditions and measures of nature protection, and issuing concession licences to legal and physical persons registered for the economic activities allowed. The management of protected areas in the category of regional parks and protected landscapes is performed on the basis of a management plan adopted for a ten-year period, while for lower categories of protection conditions and measures are applied in accordance with spatial planning documentation.

Other Public Institutions for Managing Protected Nature Areas in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County

Apart from the Public Institution “Priroda”, there are only a few other establishments in the County, the activities of which involve the conservation and promotion of the natural heritage. These are:

  • Public Institution “Risnjak National Park” np-risnjak.hr
  • Public Institution “Učka Nature Park” www.pp-ucka.hr
  • Public Institution “Eneo”.

“Risnjak National Park” and “Učka Nature Park” were founded by the Republic of Croatia, while “Eneo” was founded by the Town of Rijeka. At this moment Public Institution “Eneo” has not yet started working.