Dalmatian Islands, Croatia

Coastal landscape with vineyards Dry stone walls with olives Pastoralism- Sheep grazing Agroforestry- multifunctional production Olive production Depopulation and land abandonment Bottlenecks in local mutton production Rigid interpretation of food hygiene and other rules Decline in grazing and pasture management Hard living and working conditions Oživi održi otok Action plan Multistakeholder organisations Agri-tourism in HNV farmlands HNVf branding and promotion Revitalizing dry stone walls Nursery of indigenous species "Anemona"

Dingac on Pelješac Peninsula has very steep - up to 45° ! - and sunny coastal slopes where plavac mali, an autochthonous black grapes variety, is cultivated. The very dry and warm microclimate prevents development of grape diseases and produces grapes with a high sugar content.

Arable plots and orchards are frequently surrounded by dry stone walls. The stone walls delineate borders, help protect against erosion, and are used in animal husbandry. They are a defining feature of the HNV farming landscape.

Grasslands with sheep grazing are one of the main HNV farmland types in the Dalmatian Islands. However, the traditional pastoral knowledge is dying out, and pastoralists also face social stigma. Maintenance of extensive grazing systems is vital for preventing shrub encroachment and making arable land available.

Orchards and olive groves with large, old trees and a semi-permanent understorey are a characteristic HNV Type 2 in Dalmatian Islands. The agroforestry elements are multifunctional, with mixed production of e.g. fruits, fodder for grazing, and aromatic herbs.

Traditional extensive ways of collecting olives still dominate in the Dalmatian Islands Learning Area, although machinery may also be used.

Depopulation of the islands and land abandonment is an ongoing trend, and many people have shifted from agriculture to tourism as their primary livelihood. Farmland abandonment results in recolonization by Mediterranean scrub (maquis) and then by forest.

Despite strong demand by restaurants for local products to offer to tourists, obtaining local lamb is a bottleneck due to limited slaughtering facilities. There is no veterinarian on the Pelješac peninsula, so breeders need to pay for the trip of a professional from the mainland.

On-farm processing (e.g. cheese) and direct sales cannot develop due to rigid rules and bureaucracy that are poorly adapted for smallholders on islands.

Pastures are degrading due to decline in grazing animals. This leads to scrub encroachment, degradation in values of Natura 2000 habitats, and increasingly devastating wildfires.

HNV farmers and their families endure harsh living conditions and a high cost of living. Practicing agriculture on the islands attractive to tourism is costly.

The action plan of Murter region documented local natural resources and biodiversity-friendly practices and related innovations. Seven project proposals were developed for implementation, ranging from tourism valorization, revitalization of traditional skills and practices, and founding of a cooperative. Funded by the EU IPA Funds.

Several multi-stakeholder organizations indirectly promote HNV-friendly practices and HNV products. They serve as knowledge brokers and catalysts for the implementation of HNV values in local communities.

Agri-tourism that uses HNV farmland as part of the tourism experience provides important revenue that helps maintain the practices. There are several examples of how HNVf tourism revitalizes HNV farming practices in the area.

Branding and promotion of HNVf products is key for sustainable agri-tourism. Three examples highlight the potential for residents to benefit: the local Olive Oil Museum; “Eko Škoj” shop for local products; and agronomist Vlaho Komparak- who studied agronomy off-island and returned to apply theory to practice.

The NGO 4 Grada Dragodid is revitalizing dry stone walls through transgenerational knowledge transfer through workshops, field research and media. They are linking the bearers of knowledge with young professionals (agriculture, architecture, construction, tourism, etc.), heritage enthusiasts, and tourists.

Anemona is a plant nursery and garden center that is continuously investing time and resources to research and monitor nature on the island of Korcula. Knowledge is shared with the local community, especially with children, through collaboration with schools and the local radio station.

The Dalmatian Islands Learning Area is situated in central and south Dalmatia in the Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva regions in Croatia. It represents the Mediterranean climatic types, including the drier “olive climate” and higher rainfall areas with citrus, olives, and vineyards. Agricultural landscapes differ from island to island, with the overall typology being inland and coastal hills, coastal slopes and karstic plains. Farming is dominated by permanent crops (olives, figs, carob, almonds), but also supports remnants of pastoral systems with grazing on semi-natural vegetation, as well as cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants. Most of the farmed areas are high nature value farmland. Stone walls and terracing are important features. The natural and cultural heritage draws high numbers of tourists. For more information on the area, see the Baseline Assessment

Innovations in Dalmatian Islands

Useful links:

Innovations relevant for Dalmatian Islands from other project areas:

If you are aware of innovations dealing with issues below that are needed in LA Dalmatian islands, please, get in touch with the area contact person:

  • Successful means of linking HNV farming products to markets on a large scale and especially how to overcome the obstacles of accessing markets.
  • Examples of advisory/training/education provisioning that are both locally adapted and focused at HNV farming systems (including the intensive elements of those systems) and how they are funded and organised.
  • Use of the Rural Development Programme payments to support HNV farming systems with grazing on a large scale, especially on common land.
  • Locally-led projects that are based on outcomes with farmers having an important and active role in adding their expertise and knowledge.
  • Examples of techniques and technologies for improving HNV farming systems with grazing, including ‘agroecological’ approaches to inbye land.

Other Downloads:

Contact person: , Local Action Group LAG 5, Croatia.

(July 2018)

Photographs ©HNV-Link, courtesy of: NGO Argonauta; LAG5; Irina Herzon; Vlaho Komparak; Milan Vojinović