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Neretva River

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Foreword

I

The Neretva river got its name from Celts, they called the river "Nera Etwa" which means the "Flowing Divinity", "Divine River", and no doubt this truly is the Nile of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, indeed, all of South-East Europe - that's my river !

Today, foolish and corrupted Bosnian leaders and politicians of all colors and political affiliations are not satisfied with usage of the Neretva waters with 2/3 of the Neretva under an absolutely excessive utilization, so they call for more "sustainable" requisition of the Neretva head waters, the last untouched and unspoiled stretch of this unique river. They brazenly call it "national interest" while the nation echoing with public outcries for the preservation and statutory protection of the Neretva, its tributaries and surroundings.

II

At first I started this article/story on English Wikipedia (as user/editor "santasa99"), quickly gathering momentum with new entries text was rapidly grew, but soon it was much harder to maintain continuity and consistency of the story because of constant editing and changing by other editors often irrelevant and unnecessary. Soon all I was doing is fighting for my article without any new entries, not to mention my helplessness when some zealous editor ask for proof for copyrights on images. So, I finally grew tired of "edit wars" and decided to rewrite my article here, on my own terms. Here it is!

Intro

Neretva 44
The Neretva - The Upper Course, also known as Upper Neretva, canyon above town of Konjic in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SantasaAdded by Santasa
Mapa Neretva u BiH
Neretva River on the map of Balkan and Europe
SantasaAdded by Santasa
Sliv Neretve
Neretva River watershed within Bosnia and Herzegovina
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Neretva is the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriatic basin. It has been harnessed and controlled to a large extent by four HE power-plants with large dams (as higher than 15 meters)[1][2] and their storage lakes, but it still recognized for its natural beauty[3][4], diversity of its landscape and visual attractiveness[5][6]. At its delta, a specific way of human living has developed, which now is passing away.

Rivers are the backbone of human society, but freshwater ecosystems have suffered a lot from an increasing population and the associated development pressures. One of the most valuable natural resource of Bosnia and Herzegovina (and Croatia) is its freshwater richness[7] contained by an abundant wellspring and clear rivers, indeed, a natural treasure of great importance yet to be evaluated, acknowledge and appreciated[8][9]. From the Drina river on the east to the Una river on the west and from the Sava river on the north to the Adriatic sea on the south, Bosnia and Herzegovina is genuine European freshwater reservoir[10]. Situated in between all these major regional rivers the Neretva basin contain most significant[11] portion of fresh drinking water[12][13].

In that dense water system network the Neretva holds a significant position[14][15][16] among rivers of Dinaric Alps region, regarding its divers ecosystems and habitats, flora and fauna, cultural and historic heritage, but also as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and most importantly its clean, fresh drinking water[17][18].

Geography and hydrology

Water of the Neretva river
Water of the Neretva river - clean, cold and under a constant threat.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

The Neretva flows through Bosnia and Herzegovina (and Croatia) and it is largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps in the entire eastern part of the Adriatic basin, which belongs to the Adriatic river watershed. The total length is 230 km, of which 208 km are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the final 22 km are in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia[19]. Size of the Neretva watershed is 10,380 km2 in total, in Bosnia and Herzegovina 10,110 km2 with addition of the Trebišnjica river watershed and in Croatia 280 km2. Average discharge at profile Žitomislići in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 233 m3/s and at the mouth in Croatia is 341 m3/s in addition with the Trebišnjica river 402 m3/s. The Trebišnjica river basin is included to the Neretva watershed due to physical link of two basins by porous karst terrain[19][20].

Sectioning

Pogled na izvor Neretve opisan
5 wellsprings of the Neretva under Gredelj ridge (Source: Panoramio)
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Geographically and hydrologically the Neretva is divided in three section[20]. Its source and headwaters gorge are situated deep in the Dinaric Alps at the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik mountain, under the Gredelj ridge 1,227 m.a.s.l. First section of the Neretva course from source all the way to the town of Konjic, the Upper Neretva (Bosnian: Gornja Neretva), flow from south to north - north-west as most of the Bosnia and Herzegovina rivers belonging to the Danube watershed, and cover some 1,390 km2 with average elevation of 1.2%. Right below Konjic, the Neretva briefly expanding into a wide valley which provides fertile agricultural land. There exists a large Jablaničko Lake, artificially formed after construction of dam near Jablanica, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Second section begins from the confluence of the Neretva and the Rama river between Konjic and Jablanica where the Neretva suddenly takes a southern course. From Jablanica, the Neretva enter a largest canyons of its course, running through steep slopes of magnificent mountains of Prenj, Čvrsnica and Čabulja reaching 800–1200 meters in depth. Here man once again turn to the river for energy and created three more hydroelectric dam between Jablanica and Mostar. When the Neretva expend for the second and final time, it already reached third section of its course. Often called Bosnian and Herzegovinian California, vally of the downstream Neretva indeed is a true “The Golden State” of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The last 30 km of the Neretva's stream form an alluvial delta, before the river empties into the Adriatic Sea.

Tributaries

Neretva at Mostar2
Neretva River in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Rivers of the Pridvoričko Vrelo, the Tatinac (also known as the Jezernica), the Gornji and Donji Krupac, the Ljuta River (also known as the Dindolka River), the Jesenica, the Bjelimićka Rijeka, the Slatinica River, the Račica, the Rakitnica, the Konjička Ljuta, the Trešanica River, the Neretvica River, the Rama, the Doljanka River, the Drežanka River, the Grabovica, the Radobolja River, the Lištica with the Ugrovača and Mostarsko Blato, (the Jasenica), the Trebižat River flow into the Neretva from the right, while the Jezernica, the Živašnica (also known as the Živanjski Potok), the Ladjanica River with Lađanica Wellspring, the Župski Krupac, the Bukovica River, the river and waterfall Šištica, the river and waterfall in Đajići Crni Vir, the Konjička Bijela, the Idbar River, the Glogošnica River, the Mostarska Bijela (also known as the Prenjska Bijela or Prenjska Rijeka), the Buna River, the Bregava, the Krupa River flow into it from the left.

Lakes

Ovdje napisati osnovno poglavlje o svim vrstama jezera i jedna slika od teksta iz poglavlje 6 ; ukinuti pog. 6 a (pod)poglavlja 6.1-.9 sa slikama/albumima uključiti u pog. 3, 4 i 5 kako koje gdje pripada {u pog. 3 več je završeno (pod)pog. 3.3 (sa tačkama od .1-.5) o jezerima pa ga treba samo prilagoditi novom konceptu ili možda i nije potrebno} ; u pog. 4 nema (pod)pog. o jezerima (osim možda spomen) ; u pog. 5 postoje (pod)pog. 5.1 (sa tačkama od .1-.3) o jezerima Hutova Blata). Slike/albumi moraju biti takođe pažljivo raspoređeni u odgovarajuča poglavlja i (pod)pog. sa tačkama.

Towns and villages

Konjic i Ćuprija
Konjic downtown with Old Čuprija (Old stone bridge)
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Towns and village on the Neretva include Ulog, Glavatičevo, Konjic, Čelebići, Ostrožac, Jablanica, Grabovica, Drežnica, Bijelo Polje, Vrapčići, Mostar, Buna village, historical town of Blagaj, Žitomislići, historical village of Počitelj, Tasovčići, Čapljina, Gabela in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Metković, Opuzen, Komin, Rogotin, Ploče in Croatia. The biggest town on the Neretva river is Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Upper Neretva

Main article: Upper Neretva
Neretvak
Upper Neretva River - Jewl in Peril
SantasaAdded by Santasa

The upper course of the Neretva river is simply called the Upper Neretva (Bosnian: Gornja Neretva), and includes vast area around the Neretva, numerous streams and well-springs, three major glacial lakes near the very river and even more scatered across the mountains of Treskavica and Zelengora in wider area of the Upper Neretva, mountains, peaks and forests, flora and fauna of the area. All this natural heritage thogether with cultural heritage of Upper Neretva, representing rich and valuable resources of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Europe.

The upper course of Neretva, Upper Neretva has water of Class I purity[21] and is almost certainly the coldest river water in the world, often as low as 7-8 degrees Celsius in the summer months. Rising from the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik mountain, Neretva heaswaters run in undisturbed rapids and waterfalls, carving steep gorges reaching 600-800 meters in depth through this remote and rugged limestone terrain.

Five Sources of the Neretva

5 Izvora Neretve
Topographic map of the Neretva source
SantasaAdded by Santasa
Source of the Neretva River iz hard to exactly determine, its more appropriate to see it as a cluster of several wellsprings. Five at least. All five of these main wellsprings are situated on the Gredelj, mountain ridge at the southern slopes of Mt. Zelengora and north-western slopes of Mt. Lebršnik, or more precise, between these slopes. Highest wellspring is at 1,227 m.a.s.l. The surroundings is overgrown with thick forest, and is extremely wet with ground soaked with moisture. This makes whole area covered with multitude of smaller springs and abundance of fresh, potable water.
Ispod izvora Nera-Etwa, Božija Rijeka (Dinno Kassalo - Facebook)
One of five branches of the Neretva source, in thick and wet forest, approx.1km from the very spring. (Author: Dinno Kassalo, BiH)
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Tributaries of the Upper Neretva

Gornji (Upper) Krupac

Jezernica

Tatinac

Donji (Lower) Krupac

Ljuta River

Jasenica

Živanjski Brook

Slatinica

Lađanica

Župski Krupac

...

Bukovica

Slatinica

Rakitnica River

Main article: Rakitnica
Rakitnica2
Untouched canyon of the Rakitnica river, main tributary of the Neretva at Upper Neretva section.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Rakitnica is the main tributary of the first section of the Neretva river known as Upper Neretva (Bosanian: Gornja Neretva}}). The Rakitnica river formed a 26 km long canyon , of its 32 km lenght, that stretches between Bjelašnica and Visočica to southeast from Sarajevo.[22] From canyon, there is a hiking trail along the ridge of the Rakitnica Canyon, which drops 800m to 1400m below, all the way to famous village of Lukomir. Village is the only remaining traditional semi-nomadic, Bosniak, mountain village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At almost 1,500m, the village of Lukomir, with its unique stone homes with cherry-wood roof tiles, is the highest and most isolated mountain village in the country. Indeed, access to the village is impossible from the first snows in December until late April and sometimes even later, except by skies or on foot. A newly constructed lodge is now complete to receive guests and hikers.

Crna (Džajića) Rijeka

Konjička Ljuta

Konjička Bijela

Trešanica River

Glacial lakes of the Upper Neretva

Glacial lakes of Zelengora Mountain

Glacial lakes of Treskavica Mountain

Uloško Lake (also known as Crvanjsko Lake)

This lake is located on the mountain Crvanj, about 12 km far from Ulog and the Neretva River. On the banks there is a small village of Jezero. It is 83 km far from Sarajevo. It`s altitude is 1058 meters, it is about 500 meters long, 200 m wide, and 25 meters deep. This depth is on the mountain Crvanj (west) side, and towards the opposite side the depth gradually reducing. This lake has its own rich wells which recharging fresh water, and from the lake outflow significant amount of water through large creek that finally spils to the Neretva River. This circulation provides excellent condition for fish and crayfish, especially for survival during long and cold winter months when the lake is congeal. In Uloško Lake it can be found large population of carp, brown and lake trout.

Boračko Lake

Šištica Vodopad ušće u Neretvu
Šištica river outflows from Boračko Lake and spills into Neretva as 26m waterfall (Author/Source: Ciko/Panoramio)
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Boračo Lake (Boračko jezero) largest glacial mountain lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is situated south-east and above of town of Konjic at the north-east slopes of the Prenj mountain at altitude of 405 m a.s.l. It has elliptical shape, length of 706 m and width of 502 m, its deepest point is on 14 m. Boračko Lake is one of the most beautiful natural mountain lakes in south-east Europe and certainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Borački Creek inflow into Boračo Lake with aboundant of fresh, clean and potable water that rises under the slopes of Prenj and Borašnica mountains, while the Šištica River outflow from Boračko Lake and after 2 km spills into the Neretva River, making a 26 meters deep dive into the greenness of the Neretva. This beautiful 26 m waterfall is called simply Šištica Waterfall. Lake is surrounded with complex of different kinds of trees which makes a dense forests. Lake is rich with different kinds of fish such as carp and brown trout. Lake is famous for its population of crayfish. Boračko Lake is a renowned tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous as place for relaxation and recreations, swimming, bicycling, fishing and especially after its traditional Boračko Lake triathlon competition and as mounting bike destination.

Blatačko Lake

Blatackojezero2
Blatačko Lake - In danger of rapid eutrophication
SantasaAdded by Santasa
20 km away from town of Konjic, near village of Blace, is Blatačko Lake situated at 1156 a.s.l. on mountain Bjelašnica . The lake is about 400 meters long and 150 meters wide, with largest depth around 4 meters.

(( Na 1156 m nadmorske visine u karstnoj zaravni planine Bjelašnice, 21 kilometar istočno od Konjica, nalazi se Blatačko jezero. Ovo jezero je pravougaonog oblika, do 500 m dugo i 140 m široko. U ljetnom periodu, dubina jezera je do 2 m. Blatačko jezero nema površnog priticanja, a voda iz njega otiče ponorima. Neposredno pored se nalazi kanjon rijeke Rakitnice.

Sredinom, u dužinskom smjeru sa sjevera na jug, proteže se bus, obrastao raznim barskim biljkama. Ljeti se po njemu djelimično može hodati na mjestima gdje je više vegetacije a manje blata.

Evidentirane makrofitne biljke koje rastu po busu duž obale su Alisma plantago, Potamogeton natans, Typha latifolia, Polygonum bistorta, Carex spec., Juncus spec., Batrachospermum spec., Lemna minor, Utricularia vesiculosa, te veliki mlazevi algi.

Temperatura jezera je ljeti relativno znatna i dostiže 22°C. Mala dubina jezera, te male količine sadržina vode, relativno široka obala i izloženost insolaciji većinski dio dana doprinose ovoj karakteristici, ali se iz istih razloga brzo hladi pri nepovoljnim vremenskim prilikama. Promjene u temperaturi su kod ove vrste manjih jezera brže i znatnije nego kod velikih, dubokih jezera. Jezero na ovoj nadmorskoj visini je 4-5 mjeseci godišnje (djelimično) zaleđeno i prekriveno snijegom.

Boja vode je žučkasto-zelena, a sredina je alkalna. Jezero je prvenstveno od koristi za napajanje mnogobrojne stoke koja ujedno đubri jezero, što podstiče biljni i životinjski svijet. U jezeru je zabilježeno prisustvo pijavica Hirundo medicinalis i Aulastomum gulo. Zooplankton i fitoplankton su znatno razvijeni, što, skupa sa prisutnošću mineralnog i organskog detritisa koje između ostalog nanosi vjetar, čini da je providnost vode u jezeru mala.

U jezeru nema autohtone ihtiofaune, pošto se radi o osamljenom jezeru bez površnih i podzemnih pritoka u kojima ima riba. Od fitoplanktona, zastupljene grupe su: Schizophyceae, Flagellatae, Dinoflagellatae, Bacillariaceae, Conjugatae i Chlorophyceae. Od zooplanktona, zastupljene grupe su: Rhizopoda, Ciliata, Rotatoria, Crustacea, te Athropoda larve.

Jezero je okruženo pašnjacima. Preovladava niska vegetacija, te se ponekad javlja grmlje i bjelogorično drveće, pretežno bukva. Sjeverno od jezera, ka planini Lovnici su uočene šume na padinama koje nisu izložene jakim vjetrovima. Južno od Blatačkog jezera, se pruža kanjon rijeke Rakitnice i planina Visočica.

- Georg Protić, “Hidrobiološke i plankton-studije na jezerima Bosne i Hercegovine”, Sarajevo, Glasnik Zemaljskog muzeja, sveska za prirodne nauke, 1927, 3-42.

- Karović, Elma, Kunovac, Saša, Područje sa posebnim karakteristikama: Igman-Bjelašnica-Treskavica i Kanjon Rakitnice (Visočica), Sarajevo, 2006, 10-12.

- Grupa autora, Prirodna baština Kantona Sarajevo, Sarajevo, 2008, 116.))

Dam problems for the Upper Neretva

(Environmental concerns with electricity generation|Environmental impacts of dams)

Neretvay
Incredible colours of the Upper Neretva
SantasaAdded by Santasa

The benefits brought by dams have often come at a great environmental and social cost[23][24][25], as dams destroy ecosystems[26] and cause people to lose their homes and livelihoods.

The Neretva and two main tributaries are allready harnessed, by four HE power-plants with large dams[27] on Neretva, one HE power-plants with large dam]] on the Neretva tributary Rama, and two HE power-plants with one large dam[27] on the Trebišnjica river, which is considered as part of the Neretva watershed.

NERETVA -244991
Upper Neretva canyon - Lower section (between Glavatičevo and Konjic)
SantasaAdded by Santasa

In recent times Republic of Srpska entity government finished infamous project named The Upper Horizons (Bosnian: Gornji horizonti), huge Hydroelectrical system project, which converted underground waters, that belonged directly in the Neretva watershed, to the Trebišnjica river existing HE power-plants as well as some recently erected in the Trebišnjica basin. This project was fiercely opposed not just by NGO's in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad, but also by the government of the Republic of Croatia. They unanimously argue that converting waters from the Neretva watershed to the Trebišnjica basin will affect, or even completely destroy by increasing salinity of surface as well as underground waters and every fresh water well-spring on the right bank of the Neretva, internationally recognized Ramsar sites and protected Nature Park Hutovo Blato in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nature Park Neretva Delta in Croatia and more importantly reservoirs of fresh drinkable water and vast agricultural lands in lower Neretva valley, both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Remain to be seen what will happened as result of this controversial project.

Also, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity has unveiled plans to build three more hydroelectric power plants with large dams (as over 150.5 meters in height)[27] upstream from the existing plants, beginning with Glavaticevo Hydro Power Plant in the nearby Glavatičevo village, then going even more upstream Bjelimići Hydro Power Plant and Ljubuča Hydro Power Plant located near the villages with a same names; and in addition one more at the Neretva headwaters gorge, near the very source of the river in entity of Republic of Srpska by its entity government. This, if realized, would completely destroyed this jewel among rivers, so its strongly opposed and protested by numerous environmentalist organizations and NGO's, domestic[28] as well as international[29][30][31], who wish for the canyon, considered at least beautiful as the Tara canyon in Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby Montenegro, to remain untouched and unspoiled, hopefully protected too[32][33].

Nera duboko u kanjonu ispod Rakitnice
Several aboundant wells of fresh waters from the Neretva canyon wall
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Moreover, the same Government Of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina prepering a parallel plan to form a vast National Park which include entire region of Upper Neretva (Bosnian: Gornja Neretva), and within Park those three hydroelectric power plants, which is unheard in the history of environmenatal protection. The latest idea is that the park should be divided in two, where the Neretva should be excluded from both and, in fact, become the boundary between parks. This is a cuning plan of engineers and related ministry in Government Of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and should leave the river available for the construction of three large dams, and give them hope in order to remove the fear of contradiction in the plans for environmental protection in the area and the flooding its very heart, in terms of natural values - the Neretva. Of course, such deception failed, because the concerned citizens from the local community are not given bluff, as well as concerned citizens of whole country, and its particularly strongly opposed by NGOs and other institutions and organizations that are interested in establishing the National Park of Upper Neretva towards the professional and scientific principles and not according to the needs of Hydro-electric energy lobby[34][35][36].

Vajont Dam reminder

Main article: Vajont Dam

Upper Neretva ecology and protection

Battle for Neretva

Bitka za Neretvu - pict10
Battle for Neretva - poster for the ongoing campaign for preservation and protection of the Upper Neretva River from daming. (Source: Zone 2000)
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National and Nature Parks

Middle Neretva Canyons

Jablanica Dam and dry riverbed

Doljani

Glogošnica

Aleksin Han

Grabovica

Drežnica

Mostarska Bijela Canyon

Corridor Vc problems for the Middle Neretva

Middle Neretva ecology and protection

National and Nature Parks

Lower Neretva and wetlands

The valley along the last 30 km of the Neretva River, and the river itself, comprise a remarkable landscape. Downstream from the confluence of its tributaries, the Trebižat and Bregava rivers, the valley spreads into an alluvial fan covering 20,000 hectares. The upper valley, the 7,411 hectares in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is called Hutovo Blato. Lakes of Hutovo Blato represent true crypto depressions, because bottoms of some of them are below sea level (Jelim 18 m).

The largest lakes of Hutovo Blato are: Deransko, Jelim, Drijen, Orah, Škrka and Svitavsko.

Hutovo Blato

Main article: Hutovo Blato
Hutovo Blato clear cold water
Hutovo Blato Nature Park - clear, cold water of this unusuall kind of marsh.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Since 1995, Hutovo Blato has been protected as a Hutovo Blato Nature Park[37][38] and managed by a public authority. The whole zone is well protected from human impact and functions as an important habitat for many plants and animals [39]. Historical site, Old Fortress Hutovo Blato, is in the area of Nature Park. Nature Park “Hutovo Blato” is in the South-Western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 30 km from City of Mostar and near the Croatian border. It stretches over an area of about 7400 ha and represents the one of the richest wetland reserves in Europe. Until 1995, when the cantonal protected area was founded, Hutovo Blato represented well-known area mainly for its hunting and fishing tourism. Every winter over 200 species of birds find their shelter inside this untouched nature[40]. Visitors can enjoy relaxation, recreational activities in nature, sport-fishing, cycling and main tourist attraction – photo safari. There is also an educational path providing information of park and for rising environmental awareness and need for preservation of natural heritage in Nature park “Hutovo Blato”.

Gornje Blato-Deransko lake

The part of the park which kept its original form and almost untouched nature. Gornje Blato-Deransko lake is supplied by the karstic water sources of the Trebišnjica river, emerging in the proximity of the bordering hills. It is hydro-geologically connected to the Neretva river through its effluent, the Krupa River, formed out of 5 lakes (Škrka, Deranja, Jelim, Orah, Drijen) and by large portions permanently flooded, also isolated by wide groves of reedbebds and trees, thus representing the most interesting preserved area[41].

Hutovo Blato3
Krupa River at Hutovo Blato Nature Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Svitavsko Lake

Svitavsko lake is an artificial water accumulation, originating from construction of the Čapljina hydroelectric power station. All lakes in Hutovo Blato are interconnected with numerous canals and gorges.

Krupa river

The Krupa River is the Neretva left tributary and the main water current of Hutovo Blato, which leads the waters from Gornje Blato and Svitavsko lake into the Neretva river. The length of Krupa River is 9 km with an average depth of 5 meters. The Krupa River does not have an actual source, but is actually an arm of Deransko lake. Also, the Krupa River is a unique river in Europe, because the river flows both ways. It flows ‘normally’ from the ‘source’ to the mouth and from the mouth to the ‘source’. This happens when, due to high water level and large quantity of water, river Neretva pushes the Krupa river in opposite direction [42].

Proposed Nature Park of Neretva Delta
Map of the protected and area proposed as protected Nature Park of Neretva Delta, Croatia.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Neretva Delta

Mouth of the Neretva
Mouth of the Neretva river, near Ploče, Croatia.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Running past towns and villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina Neretva spills out into the Adriatic Sea, building a delta of wetlands so rich, it is listed under the Ramsar Convention as internationally important[29][39]. In this lower valley in Croatia, the Neretva River splinters into multiple courses, creating a delta covering approximately 12,000 hectares. The delta in Croatia has been reduced by extensive land reclamation projects, and now river flows in just 3 branches, a drop from the previous 12. The marshes, lagoons and lakes that once dotted this plain have disappeared and only fragments of the old Mediterranean wetlands have survived. Hopefully area of Neretva Delta will become a Nature Park, as it has been proposed [43]. The area presents a variety of habitats which form a beautiful and remarkable landscape. Wetlands, marshes and lagoons, lakes, beaches, rivers, hummocks (limestone hills) and mountains combine into a mosaic of natural habitats of Neretva Delta. Although five protected localities with a total surface of 1,620 ha already exist. These are the ornithological, ichthyologic reserves and the protected landscapes[43].

Corridor Vc problems for the Lower Neretva

Lower Neretva and wetlands ecology and protection

National and Nature Parks

Ramsar site

Kultivacija delte Neretve u PP
Cultivation or Nature Park ? - Neretva Delta, Croatia.
SantasaAdded by Santasa

Neretva Delta has been recognised as a Ramsar site since 1992, and Hutovo Blato since 2001. Both areas form one integrated Ramsar site that is a natural entity divided by the state border [44]. The Important Bird Areas programme, conducted by Birdlife International, covers protected areas in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina[39].

Lakes glacial and artificial

Glacial lakes of Zelengora Mountain

Glacial lakes of Treskavica Mountain

Uloško Lake (also known as Crvanjsko Lake)

This lake is located on the mountain Crvanj, about 12 km far from Ulog and the Neretva River. On the banks there is a small village of Jezero. It is 83 km far from Sarajevo. It`s altitude is 1058 meters, it is about 500 meters long, 200 m wide, and 25 meters deep. This depth is on the mountain Crvanj (west) side, and towards the opposite side the depth gradually reducing. This lake has its own rich wells which recharging fresh water, and from the lake outflow significant amount of water through large creek that finally spils to the Neretva River. This circulation provides excellent condition for fish and crayfish, especially for survival during long and cold winter months when the lake is congeal. In Uloško Lake it can be found large population of carp, brown and lake trout.

Blatačko Lake

20 km away from town of Konjic, near village of Blace, is Blatačko Lake situated at 1156 a.s.l. on mountain Bjelašnica . The lake is about 400 meters long and 150 meters wide, with largest depth around 4 meters.

Boračko Lake

Šištica Vodopad ušće u Neretvu
Šištica river outflows from Boračko Lake and spills into Neretva as 26m waterfall (Author/Source: Ciko/Panoramio)
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Boračo Lake (Boračko jezero) largest glacial mountain lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is situated south-east and above of town of Konjic at the north-east slopes of the Prenj mountain at altitude of 405 m a.s.l. It has elliptical shape, length of 706 m and width of 502 m, its deepest point is on 14 m. Boračko Lake is one of the most beautiful natural mountain lakes in south-east Europe and certainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Borački Creek inflow into Boračo Lake with aboundant of fresh, clean and potable water that rises under the slopes of Prenj and Borašnica mountains, while the Šištica River outflow from Boračko Lake and after 2 km spills into the Neretva River, making a 26 meters deep dive into the greenness of the Neretva. This beautiful 26 m waterfall is called simply Šištica Waterfall. Lake is surrounded with complex of different kinds of trees which makes a dense forests. Lake is rich with different kinds of fish such as carp and brown trout. Lake is famous for its population of crayfish. Boračko Lake is a renowned tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina, famous as place for relaxation and recreations, swimming, bicycling, fishing and especially after its traditional Boračko Lake triathlon competition and as mounting bike destination.

Jablaničko Lake

Main article: Jablaničko Lake

Jablaničko Lake (Bosnian: Jablaničko jezero) is a large artificial lake|artificially formed lake on the Neretva river, right below Konjic where the Neretva briefly expanding into a wide valley. River provided lot of fertile, agricultural land there, before lake flooded most of it. The lake was created in 1953 after construction of large[27] gravitational hydroelectric dam near Jablanica in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lake has an irregular enlongated shape. Its width varies along its length. The lake is a popular vacation destiation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Swimming, boating and especially fishing are popular activities on the lake. Many weekend cottages hae been built along the shores of the lake. There are 13 types of fish in the lake's ecosystem.
But this, infact, is not an advantage as lake suffered from poor management of water and fisheries. Without any scientific and management plans or research, local fisheries and angling management introduced, alien, non-indigenous or non-native species, either deliberately or accidentally, which done more harm and damage than good. As the Neretva has many endemic and fragile species of fish that are near extinction, introductions of this invasive species, Pike Perch (Stizostedion lucioperca L.), completely destroying native endemic and highly endangered fish like Strugač (Leuciscus svallize svallize Heck. et Kn.) or (Squalius svallize)[45] and Glavatica (Salmo marmoratus) (also known as Gonjavac)[46].

Blidinje Lake in Nature Park

Main article: Blidinje Lake
Pogled s vrha vrana na blidinje jezero
Blidinje Lake from Vran mountain
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The melting glaciers from Čvrsnica during the two past ice ages created this open and barren valley Dugo Polje field leading into the park. The most important hydrographic phenomena in the area is largest mountain glacial lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina - Blidinje Lake. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, whole area covering Čvrsnica and Vran mountains, Dugo Polje and lake itself, is often refered to as "Bosnian Tibet".

It is a spacious valley, 3–5 km long, situated at an elevation of 1.150-1.300 meters a.s.l., between Čvrsnica and Vran mountains with a total area of 364 km². To the North - North-West is Vran mountain with its highest peak on 2.074 meters a.s.l. while on the South - South-East is Čvrsnica mountain with its highest peak Ploča at 2.228 meters a.s.l., South is Čabulja mountain with its highest peak at 1.786 meters a.s.l., in the North - North-East is the Doljanka river and in the East is Grabovica valley that stretches to the Neretva river.

Blidinje Lake is the direct result of a glacial retreat, but according to the Poklečani Parishes office documents, lake is, also, a product of anthropogenic intervention and activities of human inhabitants. According to these documents, in order to keep the water that is lost through the subterranean passage, local residents and cattle breeders were sealed sinkholes with branches and clay, so that water could not find its way underground. Therefore, the lake was formed. Its surface area vary between 2,5 and 6 km², while its average depth is 1,9 m (3 m deepest spot), with altitude of 1.184 m a.s.l.

The area of Blidnje is rich with natural phenomena like endemic variety of plants such as white bark pine and different rare animal species as well as fish, etc. In addition, the area of the Nature Park Blidninje thrives in numerous springs of drinkable water.

Dugo Polje, field area around the lake is covered with 150 medieval tomb stones stećci. The necropolis was declared as a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004. In 1995 lake and wide surrounding area was declared the Nature Par k Blidnje.

Gornje Blato-Deransko Lake

Hutovo Blato3
Krupa River at Hutovo Blato Nature Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The part of the park which kept its original form and almost untouched nature. Gornje Blato-Deransko lake is supplied by the karstic water sources of the Trebišnjica river, emerging in the proximity of the bordering hills. It is hydro-geologically connected to the Neretva river through its effluent, the Krupa River, formed out of 5 lakes (Škrka, Deranja, Jelim, Orah, Drijen) and by large portions permanently flooded, also isolated by wide groves of reedbebds and trees, thus representing the most interesting preserved area[41].

5492742
Svitavsko Lake part of Nature Park Hutovo Blato
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Svitavsko Lake

Svitavsko lake is an artificial water accumulation, originating from construction of the Čapljina hydroelectric power station. All lakes in Hutovo Blato are interconnected with numerous canals and gorges.

Endemic and endangered fish species

Main article: Neretva endemic and endangered fish species
1 - OSR Konjic - Glavatica ulovljena u Fly fishing reviru Glavatičevo
Glavatica iz Neretve kod Glavatičevo - Marble trout from Neretve at village of Glavatičevo
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Dinaric Alps or Dinaric Karst water systems inhabit 25% of the total of 546 fish species in Europe. Watercourses of this area inhabits a large number of endemic species of fish. The river Neretva and its tributaries represent the main drainage system in the east Adriatic watershed and the foremost ichthyofaunal habitat of the region. According to Smith & Darwall (2006) the Neretva river, together with four other areas in the Mediterranean, has the largest number of threatened freshwater fish species.
Degree of endemism in the karst eko-region is greater than 10% of the total number of fish species. Numerous species of fish that inhabited this area live in very narrow and limited areal and are vulnerable, so they are included on the Red List of endangered fish and the IUCN-2006. The Adriatic basin has 88 species of fish, of which 44 are Mediterranean endemic species, and 41 are Adriatic endemic species. More than half of the Adriatic river basins species of fish inhabit the Neretva, the Trebišnjica section known as Ombla, the Trebišnjica, the Morača rivers and their tributaries, and more than 30 are indigenous species[47].

Invasive species

Sander lucioperca or Pike Perch (Bosnian: Smuđ) (Sander lucioperca, Linnaeus 1758)[48] (also see Sander (genus)) population in the Neretva river watershed was observed in 1990 for the first time. It was the Rama river, right tributary of the Neretva, and its Ramsko Lake that received unknown quantity of this allochthonous species. Analyzing the results of the research, there are a tendency to increase the quantity of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch in the Neretva accumulation lakes. This fact confirms previous scientific assumptions of Škrijelj (1991, 1995), who predicted the possibility of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch displacement (migration) from the Ramsko Lake to the Rama river (right tributary Neretva), and then further downstream to the river Neretva and lakes on the Neretva. So, from the 1.95% of total fish quantity of Rama lake in the year 1990, this allochthonous species of fish, in less than a decade that is present in Jablaničko Lake, raise to about 25.42% of all fish. Fast pace of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch population growth and displacements in the Neretva river basin, pointers to match environmental conditions from the mid-ecological valence of this fish. In this sense, it is established continuous and accelerated growth of the population dynamics of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch in Jablaničko Lake, a relatively good representation in artificial Salakovačko Lake and the beginning of growth of population in the Grabovičko Lake. Parallel with the increase of population allochthonous species Sander (genus) - Pike Perch in the Neretva lakes, it is obvious decrease in quantity of indigenous species like European chub also White Chub (Bosnian: Bijeli klijen) (Squalius cephalus), and the disappearance of rare and endemic species like Squalius svallize - Adriatic Dace also Balkan Dace (Bosnian: Strugač}} ; Croatian: Sval) (Squalius svallize also Leuciscus svallize Heckel & Kner 1858), Adriatic trout - Neretvan Softmouth trout (Bosnian: Neretvanska mekousna pastrmka) (Salmothymus obtusirostris oxyrhinchus Steind.) and Marble trout (Bosnian: Glavatica also known as Bosnian: Gonjavac) (Salmo marmoratus Cuv.). If this migration and spreading continues, other endangered, endemic and rare species of the Neretva basin will be even more endangered. On the basis of analysis of the obtained data, it can be concluded that the populations of allochthonous species Sander (genus) - Pike Perch causes clearly visible negative effects on the autochthonous ichthyofauna in Jablaničko Lake, on autochthonous ichthyofauna of artificial Salakovačko Lake these effects are in progress and less visible, while the population of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch is in the initial phase of adaptation to existing conditions in Grabovičko Lake and currently not yet clearly visible.
Taking the fact that the introduction of Sander (genus) - Pike Perch has a substantial impact on the diversity of autochthonal ichthyofauna as a starting point, the population of this species in the Neretva river reservoirs (Jablaničko Lake, Grabovičko Lake and Salakovačko Lake) was investigated. Based on the results of the investigation of the Sander (genus) - Pike Perch population in the Neretva river “lakes”, it can also be concluded that it is growing with a tendency of spreading across the Neretva river basin of the Adriatic sea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the basis of all relevant indicators it is necessarily to take urgent measures, continuous and organized action, to dramatically reduce the quantity (if is not possible to exterminate) of this allochthonous types of fish, as well as to attempt to revitalize autochthonal fish populations, with fish stocking of local, especially salmonids species, all in order to prevent same fatal experience with water ecosystem in the UK, and prevent , if possible, this type of alohton species colonization of the Neretva river basins with irreversible effects.

Salmonids

Salmonids fishes from the Neretva basin show considerable variation in morphology, ecology and behavior. The Neretva also has many other endemic and fragile life forms that are near extinction.
Among most endangered are four species of trout: one is brown trout endemic to Adriatic drainage (Bosnian: Potočna neretvanska pastrmka) (Salmo trutta Adriatic lineage) endangered by introduction of two lineage of brown trout Danubian and Atlantic lineage; and three endemic species of the Neretva River: Neretvan Softmouth trout or Adriatic trout (Bosnian: Neretvanska mekousna pastrmka) (Salmothymus obtusirostris oxyrhinchus Steind.)[49], Salmo dentex or Toothtrout (Bosnian: Zubatak also Bosnian: Zubara) (Salmo dentex)[50] and Marble trout (Bosnian: Glavatica also known as Bosnian: Gonjavac) (Salmo marmoratus Cuv.)[51].

Softmouth trout

Mekousna
Neretvanska Mekousna - Neretva's Softmouth trout (Salmo obtusirostris oxyrhynchus)
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Marble trout

Glavatica Neretvanska
Glavatica iz Neretve - Marble trout (Salmo marmoratus)
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Tooth trout

Zubatak iz Hutovog
Zubatak iz Neretve - Tooth trout (Salmo dentex)
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On the brink of extinction

All three endemic trout species of the Neretva are endangered mostly due to the habitat destruction or construction of large and major dams (large as higher than 15-20 m; major as over 150-250 m)[27] in particular and hybridization or genetic pollution with introduced, non-native trouts, also from illegal fishing as well as poor management of water and fisheries especially in form of introduction of invasive allochthonous species (dams, overfishing, mismanagement, genetic pollution, invasive species)[52][53].

Cyprinids

Same as the Neretva salmonids, most endangered of cyprinids (Cyprinids - Cyprinidae family) are those of endemic species.

Especially interesting are five Phoxinellus (sub)species that inhabits isolated karstic field or karstic plains (fields) of eastern as well as western Herzegovina and West Bosnia, which eventually drains its waters to Neretva watershed and/or coastal drainages of south-eastern Dalmatia in Croatia.

New endemic species of the genus - Telestes metohiensis (Minow)

(Minow; Bosnian: Gaovica) Two new freshwater fish species of the genus Telestes (Actinopterygii, Cyprinidae) from karst poljes in Eastern Herzegovina in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Dubrovnik littoral in Croatia, comfermed by Nina G. Bogutskaya. It is restricted to karstic streams and springs of Nevesinjsko polje, Gatacko Polje, Cernicko Polje, Dabarsko Polje in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ljuta river in Konavaosko Polje near Dubrovnik in southern Dalmatia, Croatia.

Gaovica (Telestes dabar i T. metohiensis), Nevesinjsko, Dabarsko i Cernicko Polje u BiH
Telestes dabar & T. metohiensis from krast poljas in B-H.
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Two new species, Telestes dabar and T. miloradi, are described on the basis of morphological comparisons of isolated geographical populations of fishes identifed earlier as T. metohiensis. A lectotype is designated for T. metohiensis, whose range is shown to include waters of Gatačko, Cerničko, and Nevesinjsko poljes in Eastern Herzegovina. Telestes dabar from Dabarsko Polje (Eastern Herzegovina, BiH) and T. miloradi from Konavaosko Polje (Croatia) share with T. metohiensis the following combination of characters that distinguish them from the rest of the genus Telestes: pharyngeal teeth in one row, usually 5–4; preoperculo-mandibular canal not communicating with the infraorbital canal; mouth subterminal, the tip of the mouth cleft on or below the level of the ventral margin of the eye; postcleithrum minute or absent; ventral portion of the trunk with a dark stripe on a pale background; and dorsal portion of trunk uniformly dark and bordered ventrally by a dark midlateral stripe. Telestes dabar and T. miloradi are distinguishable from T. metohiensis in usually having 8½ branched dorsal-fin rays (vs. usually 7½), 9 or 10 gill rakers (vs. 7–10, usually 8), and the dark stripe on the ventral portion of the trunk below the main pigmented area of the back narrow and usually not reaching posteriorly to the caudal peduncle (vs. dark stripe wide and extending posteriorly to the caudal peduncle). Telestes dabar is distinguished from T. miloradi by having scales on most of the body situated close to one another and overlapping in a region behind the pectoral girdle and usually on the caudal peduncle (vs. overlapping scales on most of the body); the lateral line usually incomplete and interrupted, with 24–69, usually 54–65, total scales (vs. lateral line usually complete, with 55–67 total scales); scales above and below the lateral line slightly smaller than lateral-line scales (vs. of about equal size); head width 43–52% HL (vs. 48–58% HL); and lower jaw length 10–12% SL or 36–41% HL (vs. 8–10% SL or 33–38% HL). Telestes miloradi, a very local endemic species, is known only by historical samples. Telestes dabar is an abundant fsh in Dabarsko Polje, but its range is critically restricted during the dry season by a few permanent sources. Nothing is known about its occurrence in underground karst waters.[54]

Gaovica (Telestes dabar i T. miloradi - ranije kao T. metohiensis) novi endemi, Nevesinjsko, Dabarsko i Cernicko Polje u BiH i Konavli-Ljuta u HR
Map of distribution
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Distribution in Bosnia and Herzegovina in following karst poljes and water bodies: Zovidolka (Zavodolka, Zovidolska) River at Udbine, Spring in Zalomka River at Budisavlje in Nevesinjsko Polje, Spring Ljeskovik in Zalomka River near Rast and Odžak in Nevesinjsko Polje, Batuša River (Zalomka system) in Nevesinjsko Polje, Spring at Ključ in Cerničko Polje, Source of Ključka River in Vilina Pečina (Fairy/Fay Cave) in Cerničko Polje,, Mušnica River in Gatačko Polje. Telestes metohiensis in Bosnia and Herzegovina - on Google Maps & Google Earth

T. metohiensis has an extent of occurrence (EOO) <20,000 km² (area of occupancy (AOO) <500 km²) and is found in at least five and no more than 10 locations (karstic streams and springs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and southern Dalmatia). There is a continuing decline in habitat quality in some areas due to pollution leading to eutrophication and a decline in AOO due to water extraction and drought. It is considered Vulnerable (VU) by IUCN Red List Category & Criteria.

Karst Minnow

(Bosnian: Gatačka gaovica) (Phoxinellus metohiensis). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

South Dalmatian Minnow

(Bosnian: Trebinjska gaovica) (Phoxinellus pstrossii). It is threatened but with Data Deficient (DD) fish vulnerability is not designated on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 2009.1.

Dalmatian Minnow

(Bosnian: Popovska gaovica) (Phoxinellus ghetaldii). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Adriatic Minnow

(Bosnian: Uklja also Croatian: Pijurica) (Phoxinellus alepidotus) endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, occurs in lowland water bodies, with little current. Is threatened due to pollution and habitat destruction[55]. It is considered Endangered (EN).

Spotted Minnow

Spotted Minnnow (Bosnian: Gaovica) (Phoxinellus adspersus) endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. This species is present in the Tihaljina River, which is fed by underground waters from Imotsko field and is connected to the Trebižat river via the Mlade river also occurs in Mostarsko Blato wetlands. Fish was found in the source of the Norin River, a right-hand tributary of the lower Neretva at Metković, in Croatia, at Kuti Lake, the left-hand tributary of the lower Neretva, at Imotsko field in Crveno Lake and the Vrljika River drainage and near Vrgorac in the Matica river system[56]. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Imotska gaovica (Phoxinellus adspersus)
Gaovica
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Minnow Nase

Minnow Nase (Bosnian: Podbila) (Chondrostoma phoxinus) It is considered Critically Endangered (CR)

Podbila (Chondrostoma phoxinus)
Podbila
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Neretvan Nase

Neretvan Nase (also Dalmatian Nase and Dalmatian Soiffe) (Bosnian: Neretvanska podustva) (Chondrostoma knerii)[57] is a fish species endemic to the Neretva river. Neretvan Nase is mainly distributed in the lower parts and delta of the Neretva river shared between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Neretva left tributary Krupa River, Nature Park Hutovo Blato wetlands, Neretva Delta wetlands. Occurs in water bodies with little current. Is threatened by habitat destruction and pollution[58]. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Adriatic Dace

Adriatic Dace also Balkan Dace (Bosnian: Strugač and Croatian: Sval) (Squalius svallize also Leuciscus svallize Heckel & Kner 1858)[59] endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, also to Montenegro and Albania. Adults inhabit water bodies on the low plains, with little current, lakes. Feed on invertebrates. It is threatened due to pollution, the habitat destruction and especially due to introduction of other species. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Illyric Dace

(Bosnian: Ilirski klijen) (Squalius illyricus also Leuciscus illyricus Heckel & Kner 1858)[60] inhabits karstic waters of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Albania. Occurs in water courses on low plains, with little current. Feeds on invertebrates. Is threatened due to habitat destruction, pollution and the introduction of other species. It is considered Near Threatened (NT).

Turskyi Dace

(Bosnian: Turski klijen) (Leuciscus turskyi also Squalius turskyi turskyi and Telestes turskyi)[61] inhabits karstic waters, lake Buško Blato in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Krka and the Čikola rivers in Croatia. Occurs in water courses on the low plains, with little current and in lakes. Feeds on invertebrates. Is threatened due to water abstraction and pollution. It is considered Critically Endangered (CR).

Dalmatian Barbelgudgeon

Dalmatian Barbelgudgeon (Bosnian: Oštrulja) (Dalmatian Barbelgudgeon - Aulopyge hugeli)[62] inhabits karstic streams of Glamocko Polje, Livanjsko Polje and Duvanjsko Polje, lakes Buško Blato and Blidinje in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Cetina, Krka and Zrmanja river drainages in Croatia. Occurs in lentic waters, feeds on plants. Fish is threatened by water pollution and habitat destruction. Migratory in Livanjsko Polje. It is considered Endangered (EN).

Cobitidae

Cobitis narentana|Neretvan Spined Loach

Neretvan Spined Loach (Bosnian: Neretvanski vijun) (Cobitis narentana Karaman, 1928) is Adriatic watershed endemic fish, inhabits a narrow area of the Neretva watershed in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mrakovčić et al., 2006). In Bosnia and Herzegovina inhabits only downstream of the Neretva river and its smaller tributaries like the Matica river (section of Trebižat River). In Croatia Neretvanski vijun is strictly protected species and inhabits only in the Neretva delta and its smaller tributaries the (Norin) and lake systems of the Neretva delta (Baćina lakes, Kuti, Desne, Modro oko) (Mrakovčić et al., 2006). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Neretva delta endemics

Ichthyofauna of the Neretva delta is rich in endemic species, and there are more than 20 endemic species, of which 18 species are endemic species of Adriatic watershed, and three endemic species in Croatia. Nearly half of species (45%) of the total number of species that inhabit this area are included in one of the categories of threat, and are mainly endemic species[63].

Cultural and historical significance

The Nile of Bosnia and Herzegovina

References to Neretva have been traced as far back as ancient times. In the era of ancient Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the time of Cyclopean masonry and Troy, Neretva was known as Narenta, Narona and Naro(n)[64] [65][66], and was home to the ancient Illyrian tribe of Ardiaei[67]. Neretva provided them life, turned them into ship makers, seafarers and fishermen that were renowned in ancient times. There have been numerous archaeological discoveries of material and spiritual Illyrian culture, such as the discovery of ancient Illyrian shipwrecks found in Hutovo Blato, in the vicinity of Neretva river [68].

Illyrians

Main article: Illyrians

The Illyrians are said to have made their appearance on the Balkan peninsula sometime around 1300 BC in the land that would become known as Illyria (Ancient Greek: Template:Polytonic; Template:Lang-la[69]; see also Illyricum (Roman province). The appearance of the Illyrians restrained the Thracians, who until then, were the only northern neighbors of the Greeks just to the east. Their lands spanned the coast of the Adriatic and stretched inland, and crossed, the Danube river. The Illyrians lived by hunting, fishing and agriculture. They were known as warriors and pirates. According to the accounts of ancient Greek authors, Illyrians parted from the tribal organization of their society as early as 300's B.C., when they started forming their first kingdoms, one of the most notable being the Kingdom of Bardylis.[70] However, the most glorious pages of ancient Illyrian history were written under the Illyrian Kingdom of king Agron, himself Ardiaean, succeeded by his widow wife queen Teuta. Roman chronicles hold Queen Teuta responsible for inciting Roman intervention in Illyria and the start of Illyrian wars of 229 BC and 219 BC, for she allegedly did not suppress Illyrian piracy, but a historic account written by Romans themselves is not necessarily the most objective one. Many modern historians see the "Illyrian piracy" as nothing more than a political excuse of ancient Romans to invade ancient Illyria, and the rest of the ancient Balkans, which they obviously did[71]. During the Illyrian Wars of 229 BC and 219 BC, Rome overran the Illyrian settlements (see also List of Illyrian cities) in the Neretva river valley and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic and the Neretva Delta unsafe. Not only did Illyrians fight Greek colonists and Roman occupants, the various tribes and later kingdoms also feuded among themselves. However, the archaeological finds show that the Illyrians also had peaceful trade connections with the Romans. Between the 6th and 8th centuries the Slavs appeared and settled in Illyrian territories while proceeded to assimilate Illyrian tribes in much of what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. After the province of Illyricum was divided into Dalmatia and Pannonia in 10th century, the terms "Illyria" and "Illyrian" would generally go out of use, but would still be used in some circles. The name Illyria was revived by Napoleon for the 'Illyrian Provinces' used to refer to the "South Slavic Provinces" within the Napoleonic French Empire from 1809 to 1813, and the Kingdom of Illyria was part of Austria until 1849, after which time it was not used in the reorganized Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Daorsi

Main article: Daorson
Daorson
Walls of ancient Daorson, Ošanići near Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3th century BC.
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Daorson coins
Daorsi ancient bronze coins, found at Daorson site, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Daors was the name of an Illyrian tribe[72]. Another name of the tribe was Daversi[73]. Daorson (Ancient Greek: Δαορσών) was a Hellenistic city of the Illyrian Daorsi, in Ošanići near Stolac in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Daorson was built on a Bronze Age site, with continuous occupation from the 17th century BC, the principal structures date from the 4th century BC (the cyclopean wall, see also Cyclopean masonry) until the 1st century BC when occupation ceased[74]. Daors also made unique bronze coins[75].

Ardiaei and Narensii

File:Desilo archaeological underwater site at Hutovo Blato.jpg
Desilo achaeological underwater site at Hutovo Blato Nature Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo: University of Mostar)

Narensii (Ardiaei) original homeland is said to have been around the modern the Neretva river , in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina. In ancient times this river was known as Narenta/Naro(n)/Narona, and the connotation with the name of an Illyrian tribe Narensii seems obvious. They were called by Ancient Romans "Vardiaei"[76]. Narensii (Ardiaei), once an inland tribe, eventually settled on the Adriatic coast[77]. The ancient geographer, Strabo, lists the Ardiaei as one of the three strongest tribes - the other two being the Autariatae and the Dardani. The whole of the mountainous country that stretches alongside Pannonia from the recess of the Adriatic as far as the Rhizonic Gulf and the land of the Ardiaei is Illyrian, falling as it does between the sea and the Pannonian tribes.[78]

Illyrian Treasures

Main article: Desilo
Amphore Desilo Hutovo
Amphorae - Desilo underwater site at Hutovo Blato, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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After intense excavations in the area of Hutovo Blato in the autumn of 2008, archaeologist from Bosnia and Herzegovina University of Mostar and Norway University of Lund found the very first traces of an Illyrian trading post that is more than two thousand years old. The find is unique in a European perspective and archaeologist have concluded that Desilo, as the location is called, was an important trading post of great significance for contact between the Illyrians and the Ancient Romans. Surprisingly large finds have been made in a short period of time. The archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a settlement, the remains of a harbour that probably functioned as a trading post, as well as many sunken boats, fully-laden with wine pitchers – so-called amphorae – from the 1st century B.C[79]. The archaeologist Adam Lindhagen, who has a PhD from the University of Lund and has specialised in Ancient Roman wine amphorae, says that this is the most important find of all time from the Illyrian areas[80][81].

Bridges of the Neretva

Žičare - Pedestrian sunspension bridges as distinctive feature of the Neretva

Jablanickoj
Beautiful of the Ostrožac old suspension bridge
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Jablanicko jezero 1
Attenuate side view of the old suspension bridge over the Neretva and Jablaničko Lake
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Stara Kamena Ćuprija (Old Stone Bridge) in Konjic

Konjic i Ćuprija - 2.4.49.konjic karta 644
Old Konjic mid-town with Mosque and Ćuprija - Old Stone Bridge
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Ba-07- Konjic
The coat of arms of town of Konjic is white with the Ćuprija (Old Stone Bridge) over the Neretva between green mountain sides
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The Old Bridge

Main article: Stari most
Stari Most22
Old Bridge (Stari Most) over the Neretva, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Skokovi sa starog 0
Traditional 442nd "IKAR's" Old Bridge diving into the Neretva competition, Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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The Old Bridge (Bosnian: Stari most) was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557 to replace an older wooden suspension bridge of dubious stability. Construction began in 1557 and took nine years: according to the inscription the bridge was completed in 974 AH (islamic calendar), corresponding to the period between July 19, 1566 and July 7, 1567. Little is known of the building of the bridge, and all that has been preserved in writing are memories and legends and the name of the builder, Mimar Hayruddin (student of the Old/Great Sinan (Mimar Sinan / Koca Sinan), the Ottoman architect). Charged under pain of death to construct a bridge of such unprecedented dimensions, the architect reportedly prepared for his own funeral on the day the scaffolding was finally removed from the completed structure. Upon its completion it was the widest man-made arch in the world. Certain associated technical issues remain a mystery: how the scaffolding was erected, how the stone was transported from one bank to the other, how the scaffolding remained sound during the long building period. As a result, this bridge can be classed among the greatest architectural works of its time. On November 9, 1993, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was destroyed by Croatian HVO sustained artillery shelling, in attempt to erase any sign of Ottoman architecture in Bosnia[82]. After the war, immediate plans were raised to reconstruct the bridge as a symbol of peace and ethnic harmony, literally bridging the two sides of the conflict. It was important to use as much of the original material as possible. Salvage operations, funded by the international community, raised the stones and the remains of the bridge from the river bed. Missing elements or parts that were not usable, were cut from the same quarry where the original stones came from. Now listed as a World Heritage Site, the bridge was rebuilt under the aegis of UNESCO. Its 1,088 stones were shaped according to the original techniques, and the reconstruction cost about €12 million. The grand opening was held on July 23, 2004.

Diving

It is traditional for the young men of the town to leap from the 24 meter high bridge into the Neretva. As the Neretva is very cold, this is a very risky feat and only the most skilled and best trained divers will attempt it. The practice dates back to 1566, the time the bridge was built, and it was held every summer ever since in front of the huge audience. However, the first recorded instance of someone diving off the bridge is from 1664. In 1968 a formal diving competition was inaugurated and held every summer[83].

Buna River and natural-architectural ensemble of Blagaj

Vrelo Bune

Vrelo Bune - 6137091
Vrelo Bune - Source of the Buna River
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The Buna is a short river in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it is a left bank tributary of the Neretva river. Its source (Bosnian: Vrelo Bune), a strong karstic spring, emerging from hugh karstic cavern beneath a high vertical cliff. This region is specific for the diversity of its above-ground and underground hydrography. The source of the Buna river is the finest example of an underground karst river. Its one of the largest and most beautiful springs in Europe, producing approx. 30 m3/sec with extremely cold and clean water

[84].

Vrelo Bune
Vrelo Bune - Source of the Buna River and Old Blagaj Tekke
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Historical and Natural Heritage

Blagaj is one of the most valuable urban-cum-rural structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Blagaj reached its peak of development in the 15th centuries and 16th centuries, building in stone also reached its greatest extent. The first stone-built houses were the privilege of the wealthier class, but later, and lower class families are also built sizeable stone houses and summer residences in large numbers[1][2]. The natural and architectural ensemble of Blagaj forms a spatially and topographically self-contained ensemble. The region is also known for the diversity of its flora and a number of endemic species. At lower altitudes there are many evergreen plant and deciduous thicket species, while at higher altitudes in the hills there is sparse forest. Fertile cultivable land is suitable for the agriculture typical of the Mediterranean climate.

Usce Bune pic168
Mouth of the Buna River - Buna spills into the Neretva from the left, over long limestone cascade.
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UNESCO WHS Nomination

According to the nomination for the list of national monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina[84][85] with the title "Townscape ensemble of the town of Blagaj", drawn up by the Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the source of the Buna river with its cliffs constitutes a geomorphological natural monument, and the source of the Buna river a hydrological natural monument. Blagaj's architectural heritage and old urban quarters (mahalas) indicates that buildings of major monumental and townscape value occupy a relatively confined area along the Buna river. Urban structures, spatial physiognomy and organization can be traced from the mediaeval outskirts of the fort, which were transformed in the Ottoman period into a kasaba (village-town). Both Oriental and Mediterranean features are to be seen in Blagaj's urban layout, while the settlement itself was the outcome of the influence of the natural phenomenons and configuration of the terrain, as well as socio-economic relations. A perfect harmony between each buildings and its environs was achieved[84]. [2][3][4][5]

Počitelj historical village

Main article: Počitelj
Pocitelj citadela
Citadel over the old city of Počitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Pocitelj sa citadele
The Neretva river, Mosque and Watch Tower as viewed from the Citadel over the Počitelj, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Počitelj is situated on a hill near Mostar and is easily accessible by bus. As many other Bosnian sites, this town is Ottoman in its nature. It is a historic fortified town with a hostel (caravanserai) and a hamam underneath it. There is also a traditional mosque which can be visited. During the Bosnian War Pocitelj was badly damaged and most of its residents fled away and never returned. Nonetheless, some Bosniaks still reside in this beautiful town and still enjoy the unique atmosphere of their traditional houses and food[86].

Mogorjelo

Mogorjelo Villa Rustica
Mogorjelo ancient Roman suburban Villa Rustica from the 4th century, near Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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One of the most significant monuments of Roman times in Bosnia and Herzegovina is certainly Mogorjelo, a yet another pearl of Neretva's long strand of pearls of ancient cultural and natural heritage sites. Located 1 kilometer south of town of Čapljina, Mogorjelo remainings of the old Roman suburban Villa Rustica from the 4th century represents ancient Roman agricultural production and estate, mills, bakeries, olive oil refinery and forges[87]. The destruction of the Villa came in the middle of the 4th century, during the invasion of western Goths. Residents, who have survived invasion and destruction, did not have any further opportunities to renew it in a full splendor. There are two theories about the name of Mogorjelo. First one assumes that the place had burnt several times, so the root of the name was derived from a word “burn” (slavic - goriti). Another theory is that at the end of the 5th century the church was built on the ruins of Villa, and it was dedicated to St. Hermagor – Mogoru, by which the site was named[88].

Gabela

Gabela Bosnia and Herzegovina
Gabela on the Neretva river, near Čapljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Gabela, a rich archeological site on the Neretva bank. Situated 5 kilometres south of the town of Čapljina. Among a great number of notable mideval buildings, there are still remains of Old City walls, as well as a sculpture of a stone lion – a symbol of Venetian culture. For its remarkable geostrategic position, Gabela was linked to the most famous Homer's work - Iliad. Mexican Homeric scholar and amateur archeologist Roberto Salinas Price has claimed that Gabela was actually ancient Homer's Troy[89][90][91]. Most of the mainstream archaeologists rejected this theory but, still, these claims are interesting in terms of tourism and certainly proves very rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage as well as geographical and natural significance of this region and the Neretva River and surroundings.

Narona

Main article: Narona

Battle of the Neretva

Neretva most Jablanica
Railway bridge on the Neretva river, repaired and twice-destroyed during the battle in spring of 1943.
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The famous Battle of Neretva is 1969 Oscar-nominated motion picture depicting real events from the Second World War and the actual Battle of the Neretva (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Serbo-Croatian: Bitka na Neretvi)[92]. Codenamed Fall Weiss, the operation was a German strategic plan for a combined Axis attack launched in early 1943 against the Yugoslav Partisans throughout occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War. The offensive took place between January and April 1943. The operation is generally known as the Fourth anti-Partisan Offensive, while it is also known as the Fourth Enemy Offensive (Četvrta neprijateljska ofenziva/ofanziva) or the Battle for the Wounded (Bitka za ranjenike). At some point, during the battle, the Partisans were caught in a pocket with their back to the Neretva river. The movie depicting events that had happened on the banks of river Neretva near Jablanica while 20,000 Partisans under command of Marshal Tito struggled to save some 4500 wounded comrades and typhus patients together with Supreme Headquarters and Main Hospital against some 150,000 Axis combatants[93].

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References

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