Biodiversity Bosnia and Herzegovina
Biodiversity in numbers
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a particularly rich biodiversity due to its location in three distinct geological and climatic regions: The Mediterranean region, the Euro Siberian-Bore American region and the Alpine-Nordic region. It is home to a number of endemic species and habitats, and the location of relic centers-refuges of tertiary flora and fauna preserved today under specific paleo-climatic conditions. The country is one of the countries in Europe with the greatest diversity of species of plants and animals. Vascular flora accounts for about 5,000 confirmed taxa of species, subspecies, and variety and form levels. As much as 30% of the total endemic flora in the Balkans (1,800 species) is contained within the flora of Bosnia and Herzegovina. ... The area of Herzegovina is particularly significant because of its transition from a Mediterranean region into a highland mountainous region, which represents a very rich area in terms of plant diversity (1).
The animal kingdom is rich and diverse, particularly in comparison to other countries in the Balkans and in Europe. This rich biodiversity is endangered (1).
The extremely high level of diversity of biotopes in Bosnia and Herzegovina results from a unique orography, geological surface, hydrology and eco-climate. Given the area of the country and the number of registered geological rarities, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the countries with the greatest diversity in Europe and in the world (1).
Vulnerabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Paris Agreement of December 2015 aims to maintain the global average warming well below 2°C above the preindustrial level. Ecosystem variability during the past 10,000 years was reconstructed from pollen analysis. Only a 1.5°C warming scenario permits Mediterranean land ecosystems to remain within this Holocene variability. At or above 2°C of warming, climatic change will generate land ecosystem changes that are unmatched in the Holocene (3).
In fact, regional temperatures in the Mediterranean basin are now ~1.3°C higher than during 1880-1920, compared with an increase of ~0.85°C worldwide. Climate model projections indicate that the projected warming in the Mediterranean basin this century continues to exceed the global trend. Without ambitious mitigation policies anthropogenic climate change will likely alter ecosystems in the Mediterranean this century in a way that is without precedent during the past 10,000 years. The highly ambitious low-end scenario of climate change (the so-called RCP2.6 scenario) seems to be the only possible pathway toward more limited impacts. Under a high-end scenario of climate change (the RCP8.5 scenario), all of southern Spain turns into desert, deciduous forests invade most of the mountains, and Mediterranean vegetation replaces most of the deciduous forests in a large part of the Mediterranean basin (3).
In addition to climate change, other human impacts affect ecosystems, such as land-use change, urbanization, and soil degradation. Many of these effects are likely to become even stronger in the future because of the expanding human population and economic activity. Without ambitious climate targets, the potential for future managed or unmanaged ecosystems to host biodiversity or deliver services to society is likely to be greatly reduced by climate change and direct local effects (3).
Bosnia and Herzegovina
No studies could be identified for Bosnia and Herzegovina that discussed the problem of climate change impacts on biodiversity, including sensitivity and adaptation. Based on existing research findings, the following main types of climate change effects on biodiversity are to be expected in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1):
- Shift of vegetation zones (layers) in a horizontal and vertical direction;
- Shift and changes in habitats of individual plant and animal types;
- Extinction of individual species;
- Changes in the quality and quantity of the composition of biocenoses;
- Fragmentation of habitats;
- Changes in ecosystem function.
The sensitive areas exposed to strong pressure from changing climatic conditions are as follows (1):
- High-mountainous ecosystems (higher than 1600m above sea level)
- Mountain ecosystems (from 900 to 1600m above sea level);
- Ecosystems of Sub-Mediterranean forests and underwoods (from 300 to 80m above sea level)
- Ecosystems of karst caves, basins and abysses;
- Ecosystems of highlands (from 600 to 900m above sea level)
- Ecosystems of Peripannonian area (from 200 to 600m above sea level);
- Pannonia ecosystems (until 200 m. above sea level).
Climate change will threaten all three macro-regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Regarding threats to biodiversity, the most endangered regions are the Alpine-Nordic region and the Mediterranean region. The area of the Dinarides will be particularly threatened as a very important and rich centre of endemic species in the Balkans. This mountainous chain is of exceptional biological and geomorphological significance. The rivers in karst regions and ecosystems developed along these rivers may be particularly endangered as well. The most sensitive ecosystems are (1):
- High-mountainous and mountain ecosystems are exposed to the biggest impact; areas at an altitude of more than 1500 meters above sea level have a faster increase in average temperature than the areas at a lower altitude. ... Many glacial and boreal relicts and their habitat could be destroyed.
- Peripannonian and hilly ecosystems are the second most endangered ecosystem. ... The biggest pressure would be exerted on oak-tree forests, which means forests with the cork oak tree and the English oak tree. The cork-oak-tree forests are the lowest forests on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, growing at 280 to 860m (altitude amplitude is very low – 580m). Migration of the cork oak tree and the English oak tree into the areas at higher altitude is hindered due to their heavy seed (2).
- Pannonia ecosystems (natural and cultural) are endangered most by flooding because floods lead to the nitrification of the soil and ground water and the expansion of invasive species.
The most endangered forest ecosystems are the fir-tree forests, which, taking into account the temperature and humidity, have a very narrow ecological valence. In contrast, beech-tree forests have a very broad ecological valence, and it is expected that they will become more prevalent in forests which are composed of a combination of both beech trees and fir trees (1).
Plants: Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on plants with habitats in the mountainous areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina .These plants may not be able to adjust their habitat fast enough. Invasive species may drive autochthonous species out of their habitats (1).
Fauna: In Bosnia and Herzegovina, climate change will affect different groups of animals. Endemic animals in karst regions will be particularly affected because shifting climate zones will disturb the physiological and ecological conditions necessary for the survival of individual stenoendemic genuses of karst and coastal lizards. The loss of swamp areas, such as Hutovo Blato, could lead to the disappearance of bird and turtle populations, which live there throughout the year or are present only during the migration period (1).
For the Mediterranean area, the projected sea level increase is 34–52 cm. Ecosystems that will be directly exposed to these impacts include low coastal areas; e.g., coastal sands, salines and estuaries. Changes in physical, hydro-dynamic, biological and chemical parameters may be expected, with accompanying quality and quantity changes in the components of biocenoses (1).
Ongoing intrusion of salt water into freshwater habitats in the lower Neretva delta has already caused habitat degradation and habitat loss, and this effect might be increased. In addition, species that are adapted to the freshwater rivers may be threatened or may even disappear (1).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Vukmir et al. (2009)
- Burlica and Travar (2001), in: Vukmir et al. (2009)
- Guiot and Cramer (2016)