Croatia is located in central southeastern Europe and shares a border with the Adriatic Sea. The country experiences both continental and Mediterranean climates and encompasses several ecological regions which are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Its many environmental habitats include forests, caves, grasslands, and rivers (among others). This article takes a look at some of the major rivers in Croatia.
The Danube River, at 1,777 miles, is the second longest river in Europe and the longest that passes through Croatia. This river flows through 10 countries before emptying into the Black Sea and the Danube Basin takes up approximately 62% of the area of Croatia. The lower areas of this basin are filled with fertile soil and, therefore, have a higher population density than the upper regions which are covered in forests. The river provides hydroelectric power to the surrounding communities and carries the majority of traded goods to inland areas. Some wastewater is discharged into this waterway, most of which has been treated. The wetlands within the basin are home to around 250 bird species, 79 of which are considered endangered on a European level. One of the most important breeding grounds for carp, a fish species, is located here as well. Riparian woodlands surround the basin and are home to Slavonian oak trees. Environmental threats to the river and its basin include urban development, tourism, agricultural runoff, industrial pollutants, and fishing. In 1998, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River was established in order to promote sustainable water use practices and to conserve its biodiversity.
The Sava river is a tributary of the Danube river and flows for 615 miles in length. It creates the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The Sava river helps to drain the waters of the Dinaric Alps, a long mountain range running through several countries. This river is home to a wide variety of fish and amphibian species that provide food sources for many birds and mammals. Many of these animals are threatened or rare around the world. The Sava river is not only important to wildlife, but also benefits local human populations. The Sava river basin holds 18 hydroelectric plants which produce over 10 megawatts of energy. Waters from the basin support many agricultural purposes, principally fish farming. Sisak and Slavonski Brod are both Croatian port cities along the Sava. Urbanization has posed the biggest threat to the environment of the river, particularly wastewater. Approximately 86% of discharged wastewater is either not treated or not treated properly. Additionally, agriculture pollutes the waterways with livestock waste production. One of the biggest challenges to conservation efforts is balancing the need for economic development with the need for sustainable water use practices.
The Drava river runs for a total of 439 miles through 5 countries. It is the fourth largest tributary of the Danube river and forms the border between Croatia and Hungary. Common birds along the river and within its ecosystems include mute swans, black coots, tawny owls, kingfishers, and mallard ducks. There are 22 hydroelectric plants along its course which have complex systems of locks and dams that often block the migratory routes of many different fish species, particularly those from the carp family. The river is currently threatened by antiquated water management policies, as some of these policies once allowed for commercial excavation of riverbed sediment. This practice is now prohibited but has left damage in its wake. The sediment deficit is a problem for wildlife, groundwater levels, and river stability.
Many other major rivers run through Croatia. The lengths of the next 7 largest range from 272 to 83 miles. A list of these rivers can be seen below.