Ecological networkAn ecological network is a range of functionally and spatially connected or spatially close areas, i.e. ecologically important areas and ecological corridors, established with the aim of conserving, restoring and improving habitat types of particular importance for the protection and conservation of habitats of certain wild species of flora and fauna.
The basis for activities related to the establishment of an ecological network, which includes the international Natura 2000 ecological network, is Article 38, paragraph 6 of the Law on Nature Conservation, according to which the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, in cooperation with the Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province and other professional and scientific institutions prepares documentation for the establishment of an ecological network in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, in line with the criteria established by the Law on Nature Conservation, generally accepted rules of international law and ratified international treaties. In addition, the Institute creates and updates a digital database containing both vector-displayed boundaries of ecological network areas and a map of ecologically important areas.
The Mid-Term Program on the Protection of Natural Resources of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia for the period 2011-2020 is also the basis for the establishment of an ecological network. Pursuant to Article 10 of the Decree on the Ecological Network, funding for the ecological network shall primarily be provided from the budget of the Republic of Serbia.
Ecologically important areas and ecological corridors
According to the Decree on the Ecological Network (Official Gazette of RS, No. 102/2010), the ecological network of the Republic of Serbia includes 101 ecologically important areas covering 1 849 201.77 ha, which represents 20.93% of the territory of Serbia. These areas include the spatial units in which certain protected areas are located, along with the areas defined by international programs for the identification of Important Plant Areas (IPA), Important Bird Areas (IBA), Prime Butterfly Areas (PBA), Ramsar areas (according to the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitats), Emerald Areas (according to the Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats), etc.
In addition to these areas, the ecological network is composed of certain watercourses with the riparian belts (Danube, Tisa, Sava, Drina, South and Great Morava, Tamiš, Kereš, Zlatica, Karaš, Nera, Brzava, Moravica, Bosut and Studva) representing the ecological corridors of the international importance since they enable connection with the ecological networks of neighboring countries. In general, ecological corridors of international, national or local importance are ecological trajectories and connections that allow the movement of individuals and the gene flow between protected areas and ecologically important areas.
Ecological corridors can be natural and semi-natural watercourses and canals with semi-natural vegetation, as well as other landscape elements (boundaries, hedges, field protection belts, pastures, meadows and other artificial corridors) that create a link between ecologically important areas. They have been identified in the database of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and the Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province. The institutes also conduct monitoring of the state and assessment of the conservation of ecological corridors in cooperation with other professional and scientific institutions and managers of protected areas.
When issuing official documents on the conditions to be fulfilled in the process of drafting the planning documents and conducting works and activities that may have an impact on nature, the Institute, among other things, prescribes measures for the conservation of ecologically important areas and ecological corridors.