Cave Park Grabovača

Unique Cave Park in Europe

Management: Public institution for management of geomorphological monuments of nature „Pećinski park Grabovača“

Naziv zaštićenog područja: Značajni krajobraz „Risovac-Grabovača“
Predložena kategorija zaštite: značajni krajobraz
IUCN kategorija zaštićenog područja: V – zaštićeni kopneni krajobraz
Županija: Ličko-senjska županija
Općina: Perušić
Površina zaštićenog područja: 5620,72 ha
OIB: 30025799843
IBAN: HR1423400091832300004

In June 2006, Croatian Environment and Nature Agency signed an Agreement with the Tourist board of Perušić with the aim to develop an Expert base for the protection of the "Cave Park near Perušić". The Expert base for protection in the category of significant landscape was prepared in May 2007 and submitted to the applicant for further action. On July 31, 2009, the Ministry of Culture, with the Decision on Preventive Protection, protected the area of the "Cave park Grabovača" in the category of the Protected landscape for a period of a 3 years.

Protected area was managed by the Public Institution for the Management of Geomorphological Monuments of Nature "Cave park Grabovača" (hereinafter referred to as the Public Institution), established by the Municipality of Perušić in 2005.

Preventive protection of the area expired on 31 July 2012. Prior to the expiry of the protection, the Public Institution sent a Request for an opinion to the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection (Nature Protection Administration) regarding the extension of the borders to the area of Risovac. In the meantime, the Public Institution obtained the consent of the Lika-Senj County, and on December 23, 2013, the Municipality of Perušić issued a Decision ordering the Founder to proceed with the process of protection. The public institution also financed numerous researches in the area in order to obtain the highest quality data on the values ​​of the area intended for protection. During this period, geomorphological, geological, demographic and biodiversity research were prepared.

The results of the research were used in the preparation of this Expert Basis. The public institution also obtained a positive expert opinion from the National Commission for Geodiversity and Geoconservation to initiate the proclamation procedure. On 12 May 2015, the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, Directorate for Nature Protection, sent a request to the State Institute for Nature Protection to prepare an expert basis to determine the values and management of the area. In December 2017, the company GEOPLAN d.o.o prepared a special geodetic basis for the registration of the legal regime in the cadastre and land registry. In January 2018, Public Institution sent a Request to the Croatian Environment and Nature Agency for the harmonization of the expert protection basis with the Special Geodetic Survey. The Croatian Environment and Nature Agency, as the legal successor of the State Institute for Nature Protection, and within its activities prescribed by Art. 15 of the Nature Protection Act (NN 80/13 and 15/18), and on the basis of available research and field trips, prepared an expert basis for the protection of the area "Risovac -Grabovača" in the category of Protected landscape.

On VI. sessions of the Lika-Senj county held on November 27, 2019, the area "Risovac-Grabovača" was permanently protected in the category of Protected landscape.

To protect and sustain important landscapes/seascapes and the associated nature conservation and other values created by interactions with humans through traditional management practices.
- To maintain a balanced interaction of nature and culture through the protection of landscape and/or seascape and associated traditional management approaches, societies, cultures and spiritual values;
- To contribute to broad-scale conservation by maintaining species associated with cultural landscapes and/or by providing conservation opportunities in heavily used landscapes;
- To provide opportunities for enjoyment, well-being and socio-economic activity through recreation and tourism;
- To provide natural products and environmental services;
- To provide a framework to underpin active involvement by the community in the management of valued landscapes or seascapes and the natural and cultural heritage that they contain;
- To encourage the conservation of agrobiodiversity and aquatic biodiversity;
- To act as models of sustainability so that lessons can be learnt for wider application.
Category V Protected areas result from biotic, abiotic and human interaction and should have the following essential characteristics:
- Landscape and/or coastal and island seascape of high and/or distinct scenic quality and with significant associated habitats, flora and fauna and associated cultural features;
- A balanced interaction between people and nature that has endured over time and still has integrity, or where there is reasonable hope of restoring that integrity;
- Unique or traditional land-use patterns, e.g., as evidenced in sustainable agricultural and forestry systems and human settlements that have evolved in balance with their landscape.
- Opportunities for recreation and tourism consistent with life style and economic activities;
- Unique or traditional social organizations, as evidenced in local customs, livelihoods and beliefs;
- Recognition by artists of all kinds and in cultural traditions (now and in the past);
- Potential for ecological and/or landscape restoration.
Generally, category V protected areas play an important role in conservation at the landscape/seascape scale, particularly as part of a mosaic of management patterns, protected area designations and other conservation mechanisms:
- Some category V protected areas act as a buffer around a core of one or more strictly protected areas to help to ensure that land and water-use activities do not threaten their integrity;
- Category V protected areas may also act as linking habitat between several other protected areas.
Category V offers unique contributions to conservation of biological diversity. In particular:
- Species or habitats that have evolved in association with cultural management systems and can only survive if those management systems are maintained;
- To provide a framework when conservation objectives need to be met over a large area (e.g., for top predators) in crowded landscapes with a range of ownership patterns, governance models and land use;
- In addition, traditional systems of management are often associated with important components of agrobiodiversity or aquatic biodiversity, which can be conserved only by maintaining those systems.
- Being a relatively flexible model, category V may sometimes offer conservation options where more strictly protected areas are not feasible.
- Category V protected areas can seek to maintain current practices, restore historical management systems or, perhaps most commonly, maintain key landscape values whilst accommodating contemporary development and change: decisions about this need to be made in management plans.
- The emphasis on interactions of people and nature over time raises the conceptual question for any individual category V protected area: at what point on the temporal continuum should management focus? And, in an area established to protect values based on traditional management systems, what happens when traditions change or are lost?
- Since social, economic and conservation considerations are all integral to the category V concept, defining measures of performance for all of these values is important in measuring success.
- As people are the stewards of the landscape or seascape in category V protected areas, clear guidelines are needed about the extent to which decision making can be left to local inhabitants and how far a wider public interest should prevail when there is conflict between local and national needs.
- How is category V distinguished from sustainable management in the wider landscape? As an area with exceptional values? As an example of best practice in management? Category V is perhaps the most quickly developing of any protected area management approaches.
- There are still only a few examples of the application of category V in coastal and marine settings where a “protected seascape” approach could be the most appropriate management option and more examples are needed.
Category V: Protected Landscape/Seascape
A protected area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.

Category V differs from the other categories in the following ways:
- Category Ia - Human intervention is expected. Category V does not prioritize research, though it can offer opportunities to study interactions between people and nature.
- Category Ib - Category V protected areas are not “wilderness” as defined by IUCN. Many will be subject to management intervention inimical to the concept of category Ib.
- Category II - Category II seeks to minimize human activity in order to allow for “as natural a state as possible”. Category V includes an option of continuous human interaction.
- Category III - focuses on specific features and single values and emphasises the monumentality, uniqueness and/or rarity of individual features, whereas these are not required for category V protected areas, which encompasses broader landscapes and multiple values.
- Category IV - Category V aims to protect overall landscapes and seascapes that have value to biodiversity, whereas category IV aims often quite specifically to protect identified target species and habitats. Category V protected areas will often be larger than category IV.
- Category VI - Category VI emphasises the need to link nature conservation in natural areas whilst supporting sustainable livelihoods: conversely category V emphasises values from long-term interactions of people and nature in modified conditions. In category VI the emphasis is on sustainable use of environmental products and services (typically hunting, grazing, management of natural resources), whereas in category V the emphasis is on more intensive uses (typically agriculture, forestry, tourism). Category VI will usually be more “natural” than category V.
IUCN protected area management categories classify protected areas according to their management objectives. The categories are recognised by international bodies such as the United Nations and by many national governments as the global standard for defining and recording protected areas and as such are increasingly being incorporated into government legislation.
IUCN Protected Area Categories System:
Ia Strict Nature Reserve
Ib Wilderness Area
II National Park
III Natural Monument or Feature
IV Habitat/Species Management Area
V Protected Landscape/ Seascape
VI Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources
Protected and conserved areas are the foundation of biodiversity conservation. They safeguard nature and cultural resources, improve livelihoods and drive sustainable development.
IUCN works to establish best practices and standards that maximise the effectiveness of protected and conserved areas and advances justice and equity in conservation, including the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
In its work on protected areas and conserved areas, IUCN focusses on three key areas:
- achieving quality for successful and valuable protected areas
- enhancing justice for fair, just and inclusive protected areas
- contributing protected area solutions to development challenges

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