Istria – Eco Oasis in the Heart of Europe
Eco Oasis in the Heart of Europe The Istrian peninsula managed to preserve its genuine natural values. The protection of natural resources, inherited from generation to generation, is an unwritten law observed even by the today’s generation. There has been a systematic monitoring of the quality of the air, the waters and the sea in the Istrian County area since the early 1980s.
Sea Quality on the Beaches
The quality of the sea in the area of the Istrian County has been continuously monitored since 1988. Since 1996, the quality has been monitored in accordance with the provisions from the Regulation on Standards of Sea Quality on Beaches (”Official Gazette” of the Republic of Croatia no. 33/96). The geographic position and climate of the Istrian County, its 469,5 km long indented coast as well as a significant surface of the coastal sea (20% larger than the continental part – 3 581 square meters) determine Istria’s orientation toward the development of tourist activities related with the sea, which naturally calls for monitoring the sea quality on the beaches. Besides, the analysis results are useful for the coastal local authorities in defining priority repair programmes, especially concerning the sewage system, aiming at protecting bathers’ health.
The Programme is carried out by the Istrian County
Public Health Institute based in Pula, which through the Health Ecology Service, Department for Environmental Protection and Improvement carries out the sampling at defined points. The County authorities deal with the above mentioned issues once a year and adopt the Conclusion on the Sea Quality on the Beaches.
Based on the years long experience with the analysis of the sea quality on the beaches, internal criteria have been introduced according to which the sea is classified by four types marked by four colours: high quality sea (blue colour), good bathing quality sea (green colour), moderate bathing quality sea (yellow colour) and sea not suitable for bathing (red colour). These criteria have been introduced with the aim of pointing out the areas with very clean sea. The evaluation takes into consideration several important features: appearance, transparency, waste, mineral greases as well as pH value and temperature. The sea quality has been monitored in the whole Adriatic coastal area as well as islands since 1988.
Blue Flag is the name of the project for preserving the sea and the coast, which has been implemented in Europe since 1987 and which includes beaches and marinas. Since 2000 the project has been implemented in other parts of the world as well. A Blue Flag symbolizes a preserved, safe and pleasant environment for entertainment, relaxation and recreation. The beaches and marinas awarded by Blue Flags offer high quality services, have a clean tidy coast and are appropriatelly equipped. This prestigious symbol is awarded solely to the beaches and marinas which meet the requirements set according to certain criteria, their common feature being that they monitor the quality of the sea and the coast at every moment and educate and inform the public on the protection of environment. The flag is awarded for the period of one year and has to be earned again the following year. Blue Flag can be taken away from a beach during the year if the quality decreases. The basis of the award are the four following aspects: a) sea water quality b) communication with and eductaion of the public c) environmental management d) safety and services. Quality of Air The Istrian County Public Health Institute, through the Department of Environmental Protection and Improvement, has been monitoring the quality of air in the area of the Istrian County since 1982. Measurements were launched in the largest urban area, the area of the City of Pula, afterwards the measurement stations were installed in other areas as well, especially in the areas with significant emissions from industrial plants. For this reason, the number of measuring stations and the pollution indicator types have been changing.
Until 1997, the air pollution monitoring was carried out by means of classical stations, but then the first automatic station was installed in the area of the Istrian County and the Republic of Croatia. The station was installed by the City of Pula, as a part of the repair programme in the Fižela locality. Since 2002 the automatic stations around the Plomin power plant have become a part of the county network. The results from the measurement stations are collected directly and are examined daily.
Quality of Waters
The Istrian peninsula is the biggest unit with its own and specific hydrogeological and hydrological characteristics with no strong correlation with its hinterland. Running waters and underground waters represent significant water resources of Istria. Monitoring the quality of surface water flows of Dragonja, Mirna, Raša, Boljunčica and Pazinčica has been systematically carried out since 1980, while the Butoniga accumulation has been monitored since 1990.
Monitoring the quality of source waters and wells included in the water supply or else potentially used for water supply has been carried out since 1983, aiming at obtaining the best possible indicators of the quality of waters at sources and wells. The Istrian County has financed the monitoring programme as a part of the programme of Hrvatske Vode (Croatian Waters) since 1997. The programme has been implemented by the Istrian County Public Health Institute.
Let my Istria Shine
Maintaining a clean environment and ecological balance A traditional ecological action, Let my Istria Shine, begins on the first day of spring and ends on the first day of summer. It has been devised and realized by the Istrian County Tourist Board in collaboration with its offices all over Istria. It includes numerous activities which have a common goal – to maintain ecological balance in Istria, taking special care of the cleanliness of beaches and tourist villages. Finally, by motivating a big number of school children to participate in this action it aims at educating the youngest generations on the importance of preserving their heritage. So far the action has included the cleaning of wild waste dumps, getting familiar with Istrian protected landscapes, endemic species of this area, also, regulating tourist access areas, discovering miniatureparks of nature, finding the biggest tree in Istria and Istrian lookouts, and every year the action is accompanied by making school art works on the subject of ecology.
Photo: Istria Tourist Board