Velebit – biosphere reserve
The Velebit Nature Park is the largest and most complex protected area in Croatia. In terms of landforms and vegetation, it includes the most important mountain in Croatia, if not in the Mediterranean, which received its protected status in 1978 for its extraordinary natural values and importance for the preservation of biodiversity and was included in UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves (Man and the Biosphere Programme – MAB).
Extraordinary natural values are supported by the fact that the Park includes two national parks: the Paklenica National Park and the Northern Velebit National Park. The Park also includes a special forest vegetation reserve (Štirovača), geomorphological natural monument (Cerovac Caves), significant landscape (Zavratnica Bay), paleontological natural monument (Velnačka glavica) and several important relief and landscape areas.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1970, as an intergovernmental scientific programme that promotes the importance of achieving balance between conserving biodiversity on the one hand and development needs of local communities on the other hand. Within the Programme, a worldwide network of representative significant ecosystems on Earth was created in 1974. Within these areas the genetic diversity is conserved as a prerequisite for biological diversity, research of ecological systems is conducted, their condition is monitored and education is provided. Certain areas within this network are called biosphere reserves and they are internationally recognized within the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme as areas that promote solutions for a balanced relationship between protection of biological diversity and its sustainable use through the fulfilment of three basic biosphere functions:
They contribute to preservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variability.
They foster economic and human development which is socially, culturally and ecologically sustainable.
They provide support for research, monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues of conservation and sustainable development.