On geological diversity
Nature is in the sense of the Nature Protection Act (Official Gazette No. 80/13) the overall biological diversity, landscape diversity and geological diversity. Nature protection is carried out through the conservation of biological diversity, landscape diversity and geological diversity and protection of parts of nature.
Geological diversity in the sense of the indicated Act means a diversity of inanimate nature, and consists of diversity of soil, rock, minerals, fossils, relief forms, underground facilities and structures and natural processes that created them through geological periods and are being created even today.
The indicated geological diversity components have a scientific, educational, landscape, ecological, aesthetic, cultural, economic and/or intrinsic value which should be preserved and handed down to future generations.
Certain geological formations and geological localities and other geological diversity components, as natural values of interest for the Republic of Croatia, may be designated as protected part of nature by the body determined in the Nature Protection Act in the appropriate nature protection category, based on the expert background document or an expert statement prepared by the State Institute for Nature Protection upon request by the Ministry.
Long-term goals and guidelines for the preservation of geological diversity and the manner of their implementation are set by the Strategy and action plans for the protection of nature of the Republic of Croatia.
Croatia has a long legislative and legal tradition in the field of nature protection or rather of geodiversity protection and conservation. The Cave Protection Act was enacted as far back as 1900, and the geological localities Rupnica–Voćin (today a part of the Papuk Nature Park) and Hušnjakovo-Krapina were proclaimed first geological/paleontological nature monuments as early as 1948.
In recent times the protection and conservation of inanimate nature lags significantly behind the protection of the living world, although the protection of geological diversity is a precondition for conservation of biological diversity.
To date 50 geological formations/geological localities have been protected, out of which 49 in the 'nature monument' category (1 under preventive protection) and 1 in the 'special reserve' category which makes around 12% of the total number of protected areas in the Republic of Croatia. One mineral/mineral cluster is protected as well.
Key issues in the protection and conservation of geological diversity in the Republic of Croatia are:
- insufficient awareness of the value and importance of geological diversity and its components,
- inadequate education on geological diversity at all levels,
- non-renewability and vulnerability to damage or destruction resulting in permanent loss of geological diversity components.
For the purpose of protection and conservation of geological diversity the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection established a National committee for the protection of geological diversity and geological conservation.
A significant contribution to the conservation of geological diversity was the establishment of the UNESCO Global Geopark Network (GGN) and the European Geopark Network (EGN).
In 2007 Papuk Nature Park became a full member of the indicated network of geoparks as the first geopark in the Republic of Croatia and successfully confirms its status as geopark.