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BTF Biodiversity Technical Assessment Mission (6-14/9)

A team of five BTF scientists travelled to Belgrade on 7 September to assess the damage to biological diversity in protected areas in the region (Press Release).

Approximately 4% of Yugoslavia is classified as a nature protected area, in the form of national parks, Ramsar (the Wetlands Convention) or World Heritage sites. It has been reported that the conflict may have had a direct impact on the plant and animal populations in these areas with possible negative consequences for the region’s biological diversity.

The experts have gathered extensive data and witnessed first hand the current situation during visits to Fruska Gora and Kopaonik national parks, Zlatibor, and Lake Skadar in Montenegro (Press Release).

The initial reports from the biodiversity experts support BTF broader conclusions on the environmental impact of the Balkans conflict. There has clearly been some localised impact with vegetation damaged as a result of direct impact from the bombs. Also, some endangered species in the vulnerable highland areas may have been affected which is a cause for concern. However, the long-term impact on the region’s biodiversity will likely be minimal.

An issue of more immediate concern is the amount of unexploded ordnance in the national parks – it is unclear exactly how much is there but its presence is hindering management and maintenance of these areas which are key areas for recreation and tourism.

The BTF Biodiverity Mission Report is available in Portable Document Format (PDF).

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