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National Park Risnjak – a new potential Wilderness

National Park Risnjak stretches across the deep forests and the peaks of Dinaric mountains in north-western Croatia. Its name comes the word ris, meaning lynx in Croatian. Indeed, the national park is home to lynx, as well as bears and wolves, and is one of the crucial areas for lynx persistance in Croatia. 

The park is a mixture of various forest types, including beech, spruce and pine forests. Various types of meadows also interrupt the forest. This habitat mosaic supports very high plant biodiversity – over 1148 plant species live in Risnjak. Almost 70% of the park area is under strict protection, meaning that the human influence in those areas is minimal. As the park lies in a karst area, many typical karst features are present, such as caves and ponors. 

The park also has a very diverse fauna. There are also 114 bird species, 26 of which also appear on the Croatian IUCN Red List. The area also has an interesting speleofauna and many reptile species, such as the endemic and endangered lizard Iberolacerta horvathi. There are also 89 butterfly species in Risnjak, 11 out of which are under threat.

With its size of 63 km2 the park preserves unique biodiversity with little human impact. The human impact is minimised also by not allowing hunting or logging in over 40 km2 of strictly protected area (IUCN Ia and Ib). This is an excellent starting point to join the European Wilderness Network. The European Wilderness Society audit may lead to verify Wilderness quality standard particularly in a core zone and a discovery of even more Wilderness spots in Risnjak. At the European Wilderness Society, we are looking forward to cooperating and hopefully designating the Wilderness in this unique National Park.

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