sava river serbia


Protection and management of Zasavica Special Nature Reserve

Supporting Serbia’s attempts to adopt the EU Habitat’s Directive and the protection of 2 endangered cattle species, CDI facilitated the development of a management and development plan, detailing protection methods and new opportunities for the reserve.

Nature conservation in Serbia is predominantly based on the traditional approach of isolating protected areas from human activity in and around these areas. Nature conservation organisations lack the capacities to work with modern approaches like those promoted by the EU Habitats Directive.

In view of the approximation of Serbia to the European Union there is a need to introduce these modern approaches to nature conservation including participatory management planning, the identification, designation and management of protected areas based on the European Habitats Directive and including linking nature conservation with the wider perspective of rural development.

Special Reserve Zasavica is a floodplain area stretching over a length of 33 km along the River Sava just south of Novi Sad.

Increasing institutional capacities

The main objective of the project, coordinated by Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR was to increase the capacities of the State Nature Conservation Institute of Serbia and the Nature Conservation Movement from Sremska Mitrovica in the application of the EU Habitats Directive.

Additional objectives of the project include support of the survival of two endangered native cattle breeds that used to graze on the floodplains of the Sava. These are the mangulica swallow bellied pigs and the podolsko bull which are both on the FAO list of native cattle breeds threatened with extinction.

The reintroduction of these species in the farm households in the surroundings of the reserve and the use of these animals to maintain the floodplain meadows through grazing has been promoted by supporting the marketing and sales of their products. Proposals for the introduction of a certification scheme for these breeds are presented to allow for higher market prices.

Integrated management and development plan

The main outcome of the project was an integrated ‘management and development plan’ for the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve which integrates the protection and management of the Nature Reserve with sustainable rural development and particularly with the development of sustainable agriculture and tourism.

The elaboration of the ‘management and development plan’ has set a standard for management planning of protected areas in Serbia. Innovative features in the elaboration process include the involvement of hydrologists, agricultural experts, tourism experts and biologists. Regular meetings with stakeholders were organised to ensure that the management proposals meet the needs and wishes of the local population and to ensure that management of the protected area contributes to the development of the local economy.

Proposals for improving the attractiveness of the Reserve through the introduction of hiking trails, improvement of biking opportunities and improved information for visitors are included in the plan and have partly been implemented. A small investment fund has allowed for improving the visitor and reception centre.