Ecological network management
Natura 2000 ecological network management
The ecological network in Croatia is managed by public institutions established in accordance with the Nature Protection Act – the ones that also manage areas protected under national categories. In addition to public institutions – national parks (8) and nature parks (11), most of the ecological network is managed by public institutions established by regional self-government units (counties) (21) and in part by those established by municipalities or cities/towns (5).
In the field, their main task is to monitor the state of target species and habitats, implement active conservation measures, if necessary, and monitor and mitigate pressures and threats to biodiversity.
In order to perform their tasks as efficiently as possible and ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity, public institutions draw up management plans for protected areas and ecological network sites that clearly define management objectives and plan the public institution’s activities for a ten-year period. It is within the “Development of management framework for the Natura 2000 network sites” Operational Programme Competitiveness and Cohesion project that a large number of management plans are being developed, and by the end of 2023, at least 40% of the ecological network should be covered by these planning documents.
Most human activities in the ecological network areas have no effect on the area’s biodiversity, meaning they are not limited or prohibited a priori, but an appropriate assessment is carried out for each area on an individual basis. Also, some traditional forms of use, such as grazing or lawn mowing, are necessary to conserve biodiversity and are encouraged. Those parts of the ecological network that are also protected under one of the national categories are managed in accordance with the national category regime.
One of the basic tools for managing the ecological network is the procedure of ecological network appropriate assessment. It is implemented by the Croatian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, or the competent administrative department in each Croatian county. This procedure should ensure that all programmes, projects, interventions, or activities that take place within and in the proximity of the ecological network areas do not have a significant adverse effect on the species and habitats protected within these areas.