Hutovo blato covers about 8.000 ha of the Neretva Valley in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Across it, the Krupa River - a tributory of the Neretva River - flows. This river together with ground waters from the adjacent karst area, is responsible for water regime and, consequently, for general conditions of life in this wetland ecological system. Relief, climate, vegetation and abundance of water create here throughout the year favourable habitat conditions for a large number of plant and animal, especially bird species. Hutovo blato is important for wintering of ducks and waders and for nesting of European threathened species such as various herons or pygmy cormorant.
Ornithology in Bosnia and Herzegovina started to develop at the end of the 19th century thanks to Otmar Reiser, who was a curator of the National Museum at that time and one of the most respected European ornithologists of the 19th and 20th century. The second half of the 20th century has been marked with research, mainly in ecology, by Dr. Svjetoslav Obratil, the most well known ornithologist in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Up till now, there are altogether 321 species of birds registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, 218 species can be found nesting in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Owing to the vast wet surfaces of land and various marsh habitats, as well as a favourable influence of the Mediterranean climate, in winter Hutovo blato is a suitable resting place for ducks, coots and many other birds arrived here from the north of Europe.
The limestone ridge "Ostrvo" divides Hutovo blato into the upper (Deransko blato) and lower (Svitavsko blato) zones. In the upper zone there are six lakes, the largest of them being the Deransko lake. This zone is relatively well protected from the anthropogenetic impact and presents an important habitat for many plant and animal species.
In 1979, the former large marsh Svitavsko blato, after the construction of the hydro- electric power plant Capljina, became the storage lake of 1.300 ha. The lake has covered large areas with marsh vegetation, flood meadows and willow and poplar flood forests, that resulted in a considerable reduction of the number of bird and fish species. The ornithological research showed significant quantitative and qualitative changes in the bird species composition compared to the situation before 1979. Particularly important is reduction in the number of birds linked with the marsh vegetation (ducks) and flood meadows (snipes and lapwings). The international importance of this area for migratory birds has been decreased considerably.
The abundance of waters and their connection with the sea through the Neretva and Krupa Rivers, contributed to the development of very rich fish stocks in Hutovo Blato, known from ancient times as an excellent fishing place for eels and carps. Unfortunately, today fish stocks are considerably reduced. Great changes in the water regime of the Neretva River and its tributories, and in particular the disturbance of natural balance as the consequence of the construction of the hydro-electric power plant Capljina, deranged the fish movement and composition.
The main artery of Hutovo Blato is the small Krupa River, that carries waters from the Deransko and Svitavsko blato to Neretva. Having no typical source, it rushes out from the Deransko lake flowing in a snake-like stream to the Neretva River. This unusual river can flow in two directions. When water level in the Neretva River is high, the small Krupa River carries water in direction of the Deransko lake causing flooding of surrounding lands.
Since 1995, Hutovo Blato has been protected as the Nature Park managed by the Public Enterprise Hutovo blato. In a part of the Park fishing and hunting are allowed, and, besides, several foreign (alochthonous) species were imported in its ecological system, that resulted in disturbed relations inside the system. Due to the storage reservoirs in the upper Neretva River, the water regime schedule often is not in conformity with the seasonal requirements of life in this area. A coordinated planning of all further activities in the framework of a single management plan seems to be more and more pressing.






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