So far, I have mostly done various and interesting office work within my sector. After I finally stepped out of my long-lasting comfort zone and got involved in something new, more dynamic and definitely unusual, I knew that new challenges awaited me. As the number of activities was rising, so were the new opportunities. One of them was the first field trip to Mount Dinara in January. Ivan, an expert in botany, had a task to illustrate to us, non-biologists, what to expect from the actual filed trip activities on this project.
Today I have reopened the photo album and, although it has been two months since this field trip, I have decided to type down what I learned so I might inspire some of you about the significance of natural resources.
My first encounter with Dinara was last summer and I completely fell in love with nature and freedom our country offers. Although I have no expert knowledge of the Dinaric flora and fauna, I have pleasant memories, a photo gallery and an emotional travelogue. At the end of 2019 I got lucky and received a tailor-made job package which included writing, creating and implementing. And guess what? It was a part of the project dedicated to Dinara. This is how I took part in the team that wants to bring back life to Dinara.
I set off to my first field trip equipped with hiking boots, a rucksack on my back, some fruit, a sandwich, my diary and my camera. It reminded me of my school trips and weekend picnics. While driving to our starting point above the Bitelić village, Ivan was introducing us to terms such as grasslands, pastures, meadows, habitats, Natura 2000 and transhumance.
I was surprised how the terms were easily understood although I would not be able to explain them well. I kept asking questions and taking notes because you never know when the shining moment might happen.
Somewhere above the little village of Rumin we had our first presentation. I learned about prickly juniper (not that I hadn’t seen it before) and absorbed the first Latin name: Juniperus oxycedrus. I knew that the knowledge of this dead language I had learned in grammar school would pay off some day. Evergreen juniper is the most significant indicator of encroachment, end of traditional ways of maintenance such as livestock farming, grazing or mowing and it presents an early stage of succession into forest. Wow! ‘Lots of juniper around us, it will keep us busy’, I concluded.
Along the way we were also checking the wells which are used as watering places for animals. We were trying to figure out what else could be of use for local people who make a living from primary activities. What difficulties do they encounter, what makes their life easier? Is Dinara a hard life or full of life?
We came across a local herdsman who shared his story with us while his three dogs were watching over the herd in the distance. I was trying to figure out how the term ‘treasure’ started to be used instead of livestock. The moment I find out, I will let you know.
At the weekends Marko and I usually go hiking, walking or we have a picnic. But I had never been in the upper part of beautiful Peruča lake! On the shore of Peruča lake is the village of Dabar with barely 30 senior inhabitants. There is Točilo spring, which flows into Peruča, and Tamnica cave (or Tavnica), which was used as a prison at the time of the Ottomans. I was fascinated, Dabar bay looks so unreal!
The Sun was still high on our way to Vrdovo plateau, the last place where traditional farming is preserved. Apart from newly made holiday houses with solar panels, the area is not densely populated. At the very beginning we came across the sign tamo – vamo (there – here) and the gravel path not done by people but mastered by the mighty nature which always surprises us. The path leads to the mountain house St Jakov and we continued to tamo till Ježević, an important habitat of short-toed lark, the endangered bird which nests in this area. The aim of the project is to protect this habitat, to make it suitable again for the endangered species to peacefully live here.
Natura 2000 is the new term I learned. It is an ecological network of EU sites important for the protection of threatened species and habitats.
Do you know that the ecological network Natura 2000 in the Republic of Croatia covers 36.67% of land territory and 16.26% of the territorial sea and internal waters, which is 29.34% of total country surface?
I was learning a lot along the way; about stone-curlew, ortolan bunting, Suhopolje, the methods of grasslands conservation. Ivan is an ornithologist and for each bird we saw he told us its name and main features. I am still not completely aware of amount of opportunities and challenges awaiting!
The field trip was slowly coming to an end. The camera was full of marvellous shots for which I did not realise how important they were for biodiversity. Maybe because I did not understand the biodiversity.
It takes so little to understand the world around us!
There’s an interesting connection between me and nature, if I could say so. During my grammar school I was preparing for biology study (molecular biology, more precisely). With time this love faded away and I fell in love with journalism and media at first sight. What would you like to become when you grow up has always been the most difficult question for me and I have never got the answer. It was neither biology nor journalism. Some new studies and business opportunities occurred. However, ten years later, it seemed like someone-up-there remembered me and put biology and media in the same package, which I’m truly grateful for.
It is incredible how little is needed to comprehend the world around us.
It is priceless when you become aware that you can invest in yourself and no one can take it away from you.
Knowing that you can do it if you try is of great value!
I will write more about Dinara, about other field trips and activities, about the wealth of this beautiful country and its wonderful people who want to keep it like that for the benefit of all generations.
I’m absorbing, learning, searching and writing down. I admire the magic that nature creates and the way it fights for survival. Nature memorizes. It is particularly difficult to describe it well. My conclusion is that nature gives back when we need it.