This chapter is about natural heritage of the Nature Park Hutovo Blato. Hutovo Blato is a unique sub-Mediterranean wetland, located in the Neretva delta, in the southeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Figure 1). This karst green beauty covers an area of 7,824 ha, which administratively belongs to the Herzegovina-Neretva County, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to the beauty of the landscape, this area is characterized by a wealth of different aquatic ecosystems: wetlands, lakes, and rivers, which are habitats of many endangered and endemic species. Due to its exceptional natural values, Hutovo Blato is protected nationally and internationally.
This chapter is about climate features of Hutovo Blato. Nature Park Hutovo Blato is located in the lower course of the Neretva River, about 20 km upstream from the Adriatic Sea near the border with the Republic of Croatia. Thanks to its geographical position, close proximity to the Adriatic Sea and relief features, Hutovo Blato Nature Park has favorable Mediterranean climate. Dry and hot summers are important for this type of climate, with the average temperature of the warmest month higher than 22°C. Climatic conditions are influenced by the immediate hilly hinterland, low altitude, and the Neretva River, which opens this area to the sea. The whole area is under the direct influence of the flow of sea air which penetrates deep into the interior of the Neretva all the way to Mostar. The number of sunny hours in this area averages about 2,300 hours during the year. Therefore, during the colder period of the year, the average air temperatures are quite high, and the winters are mild and rainy, and the autumns are warmer than the spring (Figure 2).
Geography of Hutovo Blato
This chapter is about geographical features of Hutovo Blato. Hutovo Blato Nature Park is located in the Dinaric Karst area in southeastern Herzegovina. It is surrounded by cruciform massifs of hills and karst fields with typical geological forms characteristic of karst. In terms of geology and structure, the area of Hutovo Blato belongs to the Adriatic carbonate platform, with the direction of providing northwest-southeast structures. The area of the Nature Park is mostly (51.3%) flat terrain. The plain part includes two valleys (depressions): Svitavsko blato and Hutovsko blato, separated from each other by the limestone ridge Ostrovo. The low parts of the Svitava Depression have an altitude of 1.5 to 3.5 meters, while the altitude of Hutovo Blato ranges from -1.5 to 2.5 meters.
Habitats and Land Cover
This chapter is about Natura 2000 habitats and CORINE Land Cover of Hutovo Blato. Habitat or biotope is a unique functional unit of an ecological system, determined by geographical and various biotic and abiotic factors. All habitats with equal features constitute a single habitat type. Hutovo Blato is an area of exceptional biodiversity, with numerous habitat types. In this area, 45 communities were recorded, classified into 16 vegetation types. Among the mentioned habitats, there are also types of habitats of European importance (Natura 2000 habitats), based on which the Hutovo Blato Nature Park was included in the Draft of ecological network Natura 2000 areas for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
his chapter is about vegetation cover in Hutovo Blato. Due to favorable ecological factors and the influence of the Mediterranean climate, the area of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park has a very diverse vegetation cover. The flora of the Nature Park consists of more than 700 species of plants, and the vegetation cover consists of 45 communities that are classified into 16 vegetation classes. Some of these communities, due to the presence of rare and endangered plant species, specific orographic-edaphic and other ecological conditions, narrow range etc., can be marked as rare and endangered in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A special scientific value of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park is the description of two newly discovered communities, described by Professor Nenad Jasprica in 2009 from this area.
This chapter is about fauna of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park. The Hutovo Blato is located on one of the four migratory routes of birds from Northern and Central Europe to Asia and Africa. With favorable abiotic factors (climate, geographical position, water, soil, etc.) and biotic conditions (vegetation, microfauna and macrofauna, etc.), birds in the Hutovo Blato find plenty of food, silence and peace to rest. Therefore, this area since ancient times has been recognized as an important habitat for wetland birds Figure 9.
Protection of the natural heritage of Hutovo Blato
This chapter is about nature protection of Hutovo Blato. The Hutovo Blato as habitat for many plant and animal species has been mentioned since the ancient times. After World War II, Hutovo Blato was protected solely as an elite hunting ground. The history of this place as a protected area of nature begins from 1954, when the ornitho-fauna reserve "Hutovo Blato" was established on 6144 ha. Within ornitho-faunal reserve in 1959 a strict bird reserve Škrka was isolated on 350 ha.
This section is about the cultural-historical and traditional values of Hutovo Blato, which are as impressive as its natural features. Thanks to its location and favorable geographical features, the Neretva Valley has been densely populated and an important traffic route between the Adriatic and the interior since ancient times. Located at the crossroads of different cultures and civilizations, the heritage of Hutovo Blato shows different influences manifested in language, traditional crafts, gastronomy and exceptional historical material heritage, which includes three national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
This chapter is about cultural assets of Hutovo Blato. The Neretva valley has been and remained a natural route of communication between the Adriatic and the inland, which sustained life in this region since the ancient times. Numerous traces have remained from these historical times of mobile and immobile valuable cultural and historical assets. Hutovo Blato is an area that had certainly offered good conditions for life of the population, and in particular for development of fisheries and hunting, for exchange of goods by trade using the Krupa and Neretva waterways going both inland and towards the Adriatic Sea. The situation was also good because of the vicinity of Narona (Vid near Metković), an ancient trading hub. The Hutovo area was rich in vegetation, forests, dear, and was certainly rather densely populated in the Roman times.
Intangible cultural heritage
This chapter is about intangible cultural heritage in the area of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park. The intangible cultural heritage of this area is rich and includes: language heritage, including dialects, local speeches, toponimy (place names), anthroponomy (given names and surnames), oral literature – traditions, riddles, legends, customs, beliefs, holiday celebrations, skills, rituals, and the like, social heritage, including chants, dances, games, culinary tradition, festivities, traditional sports, living/ cultural patterns, and the like, traditional crafts and trades.
This section is about Aqua Path, the unique tourist and educational offer of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park, which allows visitors to truly enjoy in natural benefits of this protected sub-Mediterranean wetland Figure 19. Sailing on the river Krupa, and a number of lakes: Deransko, Drijen, Orah, as well as canals and ravines that connect them, the Aqua Path provides a view of the untouched richness and diversity of the swamp Hutovo Blato, which is interesting and significant from ornithological, ichthyological, scientific, ecological and tourist point of view.
Description of the Aqua Path
This chapter is about the Hutovo Blato Aqua Path, a water route that shows the true natural values and beauties of Hutovo Blato. With 61 occasionaly or permanently active springs and six lakes: Deransko, Jelim, Drijen, Orah, Škrka and Svitava, which are connected by canals and ravines, together with the Krupa River, Hutovo Blato Nature Park offers great diversity and richness of water landscapes, which can rarely be seen and experienced anywhere.
This section is about transportation in the wider Hutovo Blato area. Thanks to its position, the Herzegovina-Neretva County is a very important traffic-strategic direction, which connects the continental central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Adriatic Sea. Representation of various modes of transport, from air (Mostar International Airport), railway (Sarajevo-Ploče railway) to road (motorways, main roads) significantly contributes to the regional and international connectivity of Hutovo Blato and is a comparative advantage in passenger and visitor traffic to this jewel of Herzegovinian karst.
This chapter is about air traffic, that is performed through Mostar International Airport. Mostar Airport was opened to civil air traffic in 1965, exclusively for domestic flights, and since 1984, Mostar Airport has been declared an alternative airport for Sarajevo International Airport during the Olympic Games, thus gaining international airport status. After the re-establishment of air traffic in 1998, interrupted by the war in 1991, Mostar Airport entered a new development period marked by European Community investments in the modernization of its facilities and procurement of aircraft and passenger reception equipment, as well as capital investments and development.
This chapter is about rail transportation. In the immediate vicinity of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park is the Čapljina railway station. Rail transport is characterized by a single-track line, as part of the pan-European Corridor V, which connects Budapest and Croatia. This railway forms an important connection with the seaport of Ploče and the river ports of Šamac and Brčko. This line follows the course of the Neretva and part of it connects the railway network of Europe with the port of Ploče. The trains are equipped with air conditioning and represent a very good tourist offer in sightseeing, and the proximity of the railway station Čapljina makes Hutovo Blato a potential way destination in sightseeing.
This chapter is about how to get to the Hutovo Blato by car. The backbone of the international traffic flows of the Herzegovina-Neretva County and Hutovo Blato are the Trans-European Corridor Vc and the Adriatic-Ionian Highway, which connect this area with the area of Southeast and Central Europe. These two traffic corridors intersect in the immediate vicinity of the Nature Park. Namely, the final part of Corridor Vc from Počitelj to Bijača is also part of the planned Adriatic-Ionian highway, and this intersection is only twenty kilometers away from Hutovo Blato.
This chapter is about how to get to the Hutovo Blato by bus. Hutovo Blato is located near various roads, which makes it easier to visit the Nature Park. In recent years, due to the expansion of tourism, one of the forms of tourist services are organized by bus. Hutovo Blato is located on the road of tourist, cultural and natural routes. Bus visits to tourists from the Adriatic, mostly from Dubrovnik and Split, and visits by pupils and students for educational purposes are often organized. Also, various congresses, symposia and workshops are organized here.