The tourist offer of Hutovo Blat has been enriched, the park is on the way to self-sustainability

In the south of Herzegovina, in a typical karst environment, on the left side of the Neretva is the Hutovo Blato Nature Park. The largest natural bird reserve in this part of Europe, which is quite neglected due to the funds they receive, which are not enough, but also projects that harm its survival. Despite numerous problems, the offer for tourists has been enriched in recent years, and the relevant ministry says that they have additional funds planned to make this institution self-sustaining.

Peace, quiet, nature – these are just some of the words that can be used to describe the largest bird reserve in this part of Europe, which stands out for its size and diversity. In recent years, huge funds have been invested to enrich the offer for visitors, who return again and again.

“We come for clean, fresh air, to enjoy nature. I appreciate the silence, the sounds of nature, the peace that can be felt here, which has a favorable effect on the mood, on the human body”,  one visitor tells us.

Hutovo is the habitat of more than 200 species of migratory birds, and this is the permanent home for dozens of them. Therefore, in addition to the access path and the pier for boats, a bird observatory has recently been installed. The location where the binoculars with the house are placed offers an incredible panoramic view of this reserve.

“There is a house and one pair of binoculars for a panoramic view. In addition, the project in which we built a pier for boats, two new solar boats for tourists, a promenade and an adrenaline-educational park”,  points out Josip Vekić, head of the supervision of the Hutovo Blato Nature Park.

This habitat of numerous species of birds, which come even from Africa, has been threatened in recent years by the human factor, especially poaching. Also because of the Gornji horizonti project, which controls the water level in this natural reserve.

“We have extremes: when there are heavy rains and floods – there is huge water, and when there is no water, drying occurs. There will always be poaching, it is hunted in local hunting societies, black coot is hunted, so people fall into Hutovo blato”,  says Vekić.

The competent cantonal ministry points out that this reserve has not been used or preserved in the way it should be. Because, as they explain, the Nature Protection Act stipulates that all protected areas should be institutions, which has not yet taken effect.

“In the coming period, the government plans to transform the Public Enterprise Nature Park into a public institution, which will be able to be financed in a different and more efficient way from domestic funds, but also be able to attract funds from international institutions ,” states Emil Balavac, Minister of Tourism and of the HNK environment (SDP).

As Balavac explains, the current income generated by this reserve is nowhere near enough to become self-sustaining. As he said, funds from local tourist boards should also help in this, which is a project that is also waiting to come to life.