|Description||The development objective is to increase significantly the use of environmentally friendly agricultural practices by farmers in Croatia’s Pannonian plain in order to reduce nutrient discharge from agricultural sources to the Danube River and Black Sea.
Black Sea Environmental Program (BSEP) studies reveal that 58% of the total dissolved nitrogen and 66% of the total dissolved phosphorous flowing into the Black Sea come from the Danube river basin. More than half of all nutrient loads into the Danube river originate from agriculture, about one-fourth from private households and about 10-13% from industry.
In Croatia, the Danube river, as well as its tributaries, the Sava and Drava drain sixty percent of Croatia’s territory (approximately 33,940 sq km out of a total of 56,538 sq km). The three rivers flow southeast, through the Pannonian plains that make up the bulk of Croatia’s agricultural lands. These rivers are therefore of particular significance for the agricultural sector of Croatia and play a critical role in preserving the natural ecological conditions of the region. The ecosystems along these rivers are of high ecological value, and in fact Croatia is among the most biologically rich countries in Europe, ranking second for the number of fish species, third for the estimated number of invertebrates, fifth for the number of reptiles and seventh for the number of vascular plants and mammals. Croatia has an unusually high concentration of endemic species and its rich biodiversity has been key to the promotion of inland tourism.
The impact of the intensive fertilizer and pesticide application in the most fertile lowland areas adjacent to surface water courses is manifesting itself in increasing water pollution and loss of biodiversity which has significant ramifications for national agricultural productivity and efficiency, soil fertility, and maintenance of the biological ecosystem. In 1999, 69% of surveyed water samples had an excess of nitrates, while 41% contained DDT and 12% contained lindane above the maximum allowable concentrations. Agriculture accounts for 53% of the total nitrogen load in the surface water of the Croatian Danube basin. Public health repercussions of nutrient, agrochemical and bacterial groundwater pollution in an environment where access to piped household water supply is scarce, is widely recognized by the rural population of the Pannonian plain to be the major threat to the wellbeing of the affected communities.
The proposed project will be Croatia’s contribution to a regional effort seeking to reduce nutrient flow to the Danube River and Black Sea.|