Importance of intact ecosystems for maintaining high water quality.

The Mediterranean environment has many peculiarities in relation with soil, terrain
relief, climate, and natural resources. The designation and functioning of Protected areas are one of the primary strategies for conservation of biodiversity (IUCN, 2003; Juffe-Bignoli et al., 2014), and for conserving ecosystems providing water (Ramsar, 2008). The success of Protected Areas for conserving freshwater species and ecosystems, as well as linked ecosystem services, hinges in large part on their effective design and management. Incorporating protected areas successfully into wider management policies means working beyond their boundaries and implies deep collaboration between protected area managers and the wider community of water users and managers, to build an agreed vision for water use and protection (Ison and Watson 2007; Pittock et al., 2015)


It is of premium importance for this programme that besides three water bodies of high trophic status facing multiple pressures, there are two protected water ecosystems of high water quality status, namely Una and Krka. Both are characterized by high water quality and quantity (high annual flows) hosting the unique tuff formation phenomenon. Una National Park, where almost no pressures are found, either by settlements or farming/agriculture with no industry or mining, hosts even a reference site for WFD. For WFD, finding type-specific reference conditions that can describe a site without anthropogenic disturbance is a basic requirement. Such conditions determine the criteria for the definition of near-natural stretches, which, in turn set the basis of good water quality-the goal- for other waterbodies with the same characteristics describing physical/social/biological attributes. In Krka National Park Area, Krka river is another waterbody οf high ecological significance with important system self-purification. Springs, turns and falls, receive waters of class II or even III and return them to class I. Ιn Krka broader area, there are pressures located upstream, but the neighboring area remains sparsely populated and almost intact.


Renewable energy sources can probably be more profitable than tourism in certain cases but there is the need for cautious planning of all activities. Upstream Krka National Park, three hydroelectric power plants, functioning for several years, had altered the water regime and distorted the ecosystem of the river. It is partly compensated by the fact that all enterprises/legal entities using water resources are allowed to use hem exclusively in the manner that does not alter the quality of water and its biological realm or wildlife or natural stream regime. Moreover, three institutions, along with remote sensing systems, monitor almost every aspect of this water ecosystem, offering the ability for rapid reaction in case of emergency.


Similar threats appear in Una. Plans for hydro-power plants have been rejected recently (Bihac city council, summer 2015) but there is still growing interest. Una and one of its major tributaries – the Unac River - are also threatened by hydropower projects, some of which planned in the heart of the Una National Park in Bosnia (Balkanrivers.net).
“Ecological sustainable Governance of Mediterranean protected Areas via improved Scientific, Technical and Managerial Knowledge Base” can be a means for reaching the goal of maintain ecosystems in a healthy, clean, productive and resilient condition, which also enables them to provide humans with the services and benefits they depend on. It can be considered as a tool for Ecosystem-based management which is a spatial approach that acknowledges the connections, cumulative impacts, and multiple objectives that exist in a particular area. It is a critical part of the integrated management approach.