Fires in Hutovo blato are no surprise, warns WWF | WWF

Fires in Hutovo blato are no surprise, warns WWF

Posted on 27 October 2017
Fires in Hutovo blato, 2017
© Stanislava Borovac
Mostar – What once was a green pearl in Herzegovina, Nature Park Hutovo blato is drying out and choked with weeds. The number of migrating birds species that once flocked to the area has dropped by over 30% since the 1970s, and many other endemic and threatened fish and plant species are also in steep decline.
 
But this should not surprise us. This is not ‘new’ news to anyone paying attention to this federally protected – and internationally recognized – nature park. For the past ten years the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been studying the site and advocating for its restoration. Every year in May during Hutovo Blato Day we draw attention to the urgent challenges facing the wetland. And yet Hutovo Blato still burns, and without immediate and sustained restoration it will be completely destroyed within the next 35 years.

So don’t be surprised by another fire in the wetland. Instead, be shocked that the solution to this problem is 1) achievable, 2) affordable, 3) has been widely known for at least the past 5 years – but nothing yet is being done to restore this wetland treasure.

“The reason Hutovo blato’s wetland ecosystem is drying out is simple to understand. The production of electricity is diverting water, even up to 50% of water in the summer, away from the wetland. While it is obvious that water should continue to be used to generate the electricity we all benefit from, it is possible to restore Hutovo blato as well. And it is not too expensive. In fact, energy companies are already paying huge sums of money annually in the name of “mitigating” their environmental impacts. But almost none of this money goes to support the on the ground restoration work that is urgently needed in Hutovo blato”, said Zoran Mateljak of WWF in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

So next time you read a story about a fire in the ‘wetland’ of Hutovo blato, remember that this reflects how our governments’ priorities do not involve saving one of our remaining natural wonders.

Fires in Hutovo blato, 2017
© Stanislava Borovac Enlarge
Fires in Hutovo blato, 2017
© Stanislava Borovac Enlarge
Fires in Hutovo blato, 2017
© Stanislava Borovac Enlarge
Hutovo Blato Nature Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Hutovo Blato Nature Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina
© Edward PARKER / WWF Enlarge