National parks are territories of immense value for the ecosystem. National parks can be either natural, semi-natural or developed land under the jurisdiction of an independent state. An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has determined the criteria for declaring national parks which include size, the importance for the ecosystem, statutory legal protection, the prohibition of exploitation and many other characteristics. Although the IUCN defined the term national park, many protected areas are called national parks even when they don’t fully correspond to the IUCN characteristics.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are four national parks. The Republican government declared two in the mid-twentieth century (Sutjeska and Kozara). Recently, The Bosnian government added two more (Una and Drina). Bosnia is a largely mountainous country with running through the middle separating two climate zones. Declaring some territories to be national parks to preserve them and to maintain their uniqueness.
Sutjeska National Park
This is the oldest national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It occupies the southeast of the country and spreads over 17500 hectares (175 km²). River Sutjeska runs through the valley and the park bears its name. Forests cover the majority of the park which itself is a part of the chain of the Dinaric Alps. The mountain Maglić, the highest peak in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also a part of this Park. Likewise, mountain Zelengora is also a part of this park and is described as a place of exquisite beauty and wilderness.
Within this natural park is one of the last remaining primeval forests of Europe named Perućica. The forest itself is over 20.000 years old and many trees are over 50 m. So far over 170 types of trees and bushes have been registered. Considering the forest is very dense it is impassable in certain areas.
Kozara National Park
This National Park is situated in the northwestern part of Bosnia with a surface area of 3.520 ha. Kozara is the name of the mountain but the Park includes other notable peaks as well: Gola Planina (876) m, Rudine (750 m), Jarcevica (740 m), Vrnovacka Glava (719 m) and others. Like in the rest of Bosnia the climate is mild continental. Rivers Una, Sava, Sana and Vrbas surround the area of this national park. Part of Kozara is also the Memorial complex.
Una National Park
Una river runs through the Northwest of Bosnia and into the River Sava. The river is of exceptional value to the local people due to its natural resources, exceptional beauty, and cultural and historical heritage. For centuries the local population used the river and the surrounding area for fishing, hunting, foresting and agriculture. In recent years, the government, as well as foreign visitors introduced some new activities such as tourism, recreation, education scientific research, etc.
There was a growing need to preserve these values so after a study conducted in 2005, the government decided to act upon it. The experts suggested the category for protection to be the Natural Park level. Therefore the state authorities finally implemented it in 2008.
The park covers the area of 19.800 hectares.
Drina National Park
This Park is the newest addition to the list of Bosnian National Parks, established in 2017. The surface area extends over 6.325 hectares. The park sits in the Eastern Bosnia, near Srebrenica. Just on the other side of the river Drina, in Serbia, there is the National Park Tara. River Drina is the Eastern border of Bosnia and it separates it from neighboring Serbia.
Its main characteristics are biodiversity and geomorphological specificities. It is home to many animal species and endemic plants. Some notable animals include the brown bear (Ursus arctos), mountain goat (Rupicapra rupicapra) and golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).