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New Protected Areas in BiH

The habitat of rare plants “Gostilj” on the mountain Ozren near Doboj and the natural monument “Mokranjska Miljacka Cave” near Pale are new protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Photo: Republika Srpska Institute for the Protection of Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage

Gostilj, one of the mountain Ozren peaks, and the Mokranjska Miljacka Cave were placed under protection in early 2022 to preserve and protect them by law from various influences and decay. So far, 43 areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have been protected.

The Republika Srpska Institute for the Protection of the Cultural, Historical, and Natural Heritage has prepared studies for the protection of these natural assets, which the RS Government has accepted and rendered a decision to protect the Gostilj habitat and the Mokranjska Miljacka cave.

The Gostilj peak is located near Doboj and is protected due to the medicinal herb – Teucrium montanum – a shrubby plant with yellow occupying this area. Teucrium montanum has already been listed as a strictly protected wild species of plant the survival of which may be endangered. In addition to this medicinal plant, there are eight other plant species in this area that are also under strict protection due to their value and low distribution.

Once a year, this area hosts a traditional event “Branje trave ive na Ozrenu” [Harvesting Teucrium montanum in Mount Ozren], which UNESCO included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018. This event is also the only occasion when harvesting of this plant is allowed.

The protected area is to be further managed by the Forest Management enterprise from Doboj. According to the current regulations, the manager shall make a management plan within two years, explaining in detail the strategy for the protection and development of this natural asset. In the meantime, the protected area is managed based on the Program for the implementation of management measures.

The Mokranjska Miljacka cave near Pale is protected due to its relief, geological and hydrogeological features. It is known for its extensive cave system rich in water surfaces and cave jewelry. This seven kilometers long cave is one of the longest in Republika Srpska.

In the cave, a new species of spider – Phalangium opilio, the skulls of a cave bear, and a beaver were also found. The forest company Jahorina from Pale is appointed manager of the site.

A protected area is a geographical area that is placed under state protection due to its natural, biological, cultural, or historical values. There are 31 protected areas in the RS and 12 in the FBiH. Livanjsko polje, Bardača, and Hutovo blato are protected by the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

Protected Areas Without Protection
Uncontrolled commercial exploitation, private interests and the lack of government preservation efforts have endangered natural heritage sites in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 2020, the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) wrote that protected areas in BiH are endangered due to uncontrolled exploitation, private interests, and insufficient care of competent institutions.  Reporters found that half of the protected areas do not have a management plan, and nearly as many do not have monitoring in place, which means that they do not know the condition of these areas after they were granted the status of protected areas.

Reporters collected data on these areas and consolidated them in a database. In addition to basic information about each of them, you can also find their specific features, activities allowed and forbidden in that area, acts on their proclamation, and photos.

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