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Nature Parks & Strict Reserves

Side by side in Croatia there are phenomena which are usually many miles apart. Within a hundred kilometers you will find the sea, the karst, densely wooded mountains and fertile plains. Ecologically, Croatia has one of the best preserved environments, with as many as 8 National Parks, 10 Nature Parks and 2 Strict Reserves.
Croatia is also one of few European countries which can pride itself on its unpolluted environment and abundant plant and animal life outside the areas under protection. There are some 4,300 plant species, and in the Adriatic there are hundreds of edible fish species, cephalopods, crabs and shells. The Kopacki Rit swamp near town of Osijek is the second largest and most attractive ornithological preserve in Europe. Croatia has two arboreta (Trsteno near Dubrovnik and Opeka near Vinica), numerous historical parks and protected animal species. It also boasts a unique natural phenomenon: a fresh water lake on the Island of Cres, the Vransko Jezero, which is natural wonder and the source of life for the island. 
Nature Parks:
Nature Park Papuk - Papuk is the largest mountain range in Slavonia, covered by forests; built partially of eruptive rock. The peculiarities of Papuk represent the important part of biological and landscape values in the area of Slavonia. Outstanding relief characteristics spoke of stormy geological history of origination of this area. Variety of geological phenomenon, preserved flora and vegetation, and habitats of the larger number of animal species, represents the treasure that needs to be explored, improved and preserved.
Nature Park Biokovo - An imposing limestone mountain range above the Makarska Riviera, abundant in various plant and animal species, offers beautiful vistas to visitors. This magnificent rocky mountain is famous for its dazzling scenery and its rich flora and fauna, especially tha chamois.
Nature Park Medvednica - A mountain near capital city, Zagreb and its principal recreational site, with preserved beech and fir forests and interesting caves and deep valleys with mountain streams. Even though it is very close to the major urbane centre, it is a very well protected conservation area and it is by far the most popular holiday resort of the inhabitants of Zagreb.
Kopacki Rit - Nature Park Kopacki rit is one of the largest natural marshlands in Europe situated in the north-east of Croatia in the corner made by the mouths of the Drava River into the Danube River. The basic ecological feature of Kopacki rit is given by the flood-dynamics so that the landscape of the whole region depends on the flood intensity. The parts of the swamp land and water, arranged mosaically, change its size, form and function depending on the quantity of the risen water, namely from the Danube River and less from the Drava River. Numerous fish species live here along with wading birds and large herds of deer and wild boar.
Nature Park Lonjsko Polje - Lonjsko Polje is another marshland in Croatia. It is the one of the largest and best preserved swamps in Europe, located along the Sava river, east of Sisak, between Sisak and Nova Gradiska. Covered by impressive and extensive vast oak forests where many bird species live, including storks. A special attraction are the storks which live literally next to the people, nesting on the roofs of their autochtonous wooden houses.
Nature Park Telascica - Nature Park is distinctly contrasted area with quiet and peaceful beaches and laid down coastline on one side and wild and rough cliffs on the other. It is the area of the Aleppo pine-trees and holly oak woods on one side and bare rocky grounds on the other. It is the area of cultivated fields of vineyards and olive-trees, as well as the area of degraded forms of the flora covering dry habitats.
Three basic phenomena are certainly the main characteristics of the Nature Park: the unique bay of Telascica as one of the safest, the most beautiful and the largest havens on the Adriatic that includes 25 small bays and 69 km of the well-indented coastline, the cliffs of the island of Dugi otok or so-called "Stene", rising up to 200 m above the sea level and falling down vertically up to 90 m below the sea level, and finally the salt lake called "Mir" with its curative characteristics. 
The Ucka Nature Park - Ucka is a mountain in the eastern part of the Istria peninsula, which soars above the Kvarner Riviera and offers stunning views of the Kvarner bay with its islands and Istria hinterlands.
In only couple hours one of the numerous hiking trails will take you from the heritage of picturesque Mediterranean towns of North Adriatic coast through the forests of Ucka's slope right to it’s highest peak Vojak at 1401 meter elevation. If weather is clear the old tower-like observatory on the top of Vojak offers full 360 degrees of breath-taking panorama: Croatian islands, Italian Alps, Istrian Peninsula, limestone towers of Vranjska Draga Special Geomorphologic Reserve, Bay of Trieste… 
An area rich in plant life with a very interesting natural relief. predominately symbolizes great variety of features within the relatively small area. Thus, this is the only place on Earth where you can enjoy taking pictures of steno endemic Ucka's Bellflower (Campanula tomassiniana), and it is also one of the very last European sites where your eyes will be awarded by impressive silhouettes that belong to Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) or Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
Nature Park Vransko Jezero - The largest natural lake in Croatia, located in the vicinity of Zadar, actually between historical towns of Zadar and Sibenik. On account of its proximity to sea, it is a habitat for both marine and freshwater fish; many birds live there also (hosts over 300 bird species which makes it a perfect destination for any bird watcher).
Nature Park Velebit - Each nation has its own holy mount - the Greeks have Olympus, the nations of central Europe have the Alps while the Japanese have Mount Fuji. Croatia's very own holy mountain is Velebit. Velebit is the longest mountain of the Dinaric system. It rises along 145 km in a gentle northwest-southeast curve between Vratnik saddle and the Zrmanja valley. Velebit is not particularly high. Its highest peak - Vaganski vrh - is only 1757 m high. The largest and the most beautiful of Croatian mountains has been proclaimed a World Biosphere Reserve on account of its unique natural relief and plant and animal life. Velebit is also the largest protected area in Croatia, an area that also includes the Paklenica National Park and the North Velebit National Park.
Zumberak Nature Park - Samobor Mountains (Samoborsko Gorje) - Located 30 km southwest from Croatian capital city, Zagreb, near the border with the Republic of Slovenia, and comprises a hilly area to the southwest of the Panonian plain bordered by the rivers Sava, Krka and Kupa. This Croatian Nature Park covers 333 km2 and it is popular destination renowned for its extensive meadows, picturesque villages and deep canyons. 
Strict Reserves:
HAJDUCKI I ROZANSKI KUKOVI - A group of rocky Velebit peaks, some of which are up to 2000 meters high, established as a Strict Reserve in 1969. Fascinating speleological locations can be found in the Kukovi Strict Reserve, most prominent of them being the Lukina jama cave which was discovered in 1992. In 1994 a hitherto unknown animal from the order of leeches was found there. Other landmarks that must be mentioned are the Cerovacke pecine cave, designated a morphological natural monument, and Veliki Kozjak, the most beautiful peak of northern Velebit (1,692 meters) that offers stunning views of the entire northern and central Velebit.
BIJELE I SAMARSKE STIJENE - A part of the Velika Kapela mountain range, located in its central part, to the southeast of Mrkopalj, this is an area of exceptional beauty, unique phenomenon hidden in the forest, with a number of interesting animal and plant world features. Established as a Strict Reserve in 1985, it is a unique geomorphological karst phenomenon created by tectonic forces during the tectonic folding period (Oligocene-Miocene) from a bedrock of layered limestone and massive limestone breccia. The most improbable and amazing formations, naturally carved of white stone, surpass anything human mind might have conceived. The untamed beauty of the landscape will surely be an unforgettable experience for every visitor. The most beautiful forms that the area of Bijele Stijene (White Rocks) (1335 m) offers are shapes of crooks, turrets, gates, arche...vertical cracks and grooves in limestone where snow lingers all year round. Samarske Stijene (1302 m) have even richer fauna but not easily accessible. The rocks can be approached from Mrkopalj and Tuk. On Bijele Stijene there is a mountain shelter, and on Samarske Stijene there are two mountain lodges.

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