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ŠUMARSKI LIST 3-4/2010 str. 4     <-- 4 -->        PDF



Several important dates related to environment protection were listed in an article entitled In Step with Nature,
a special supplement toSensa,the magazine for a happier life.This reminded us of the great, but often
overlooked importance of forests, which is marked on three March dates: Forest Day on March 3,World Water
Day on March 22, andWorld Meteorological Day on March 23. The supplement gives a pessimistic outlook on
the future of our planet, which is richer by 78 million people every year. It warns of the increasing natality rate
and the impending lack of food, water and energy for over one third of the human population.

The authority that highlighted and marked the three areas of environment protection mentioned above also
proposed a logical sequence of subjects to be discussed on these three days, as well as pointed to their interdependence.
According to a number of predictions, drinking water will become one of the most desired commodities
in the future.We are very lucky to be the fourth richest country in Europe in terms of water.The large
supply of water is closely connected with natural state forests, which account for about 80% of all forests in
Croatia.We also abound in rivers with almost natural flows. The regulation of large floodplain areas of Lonjsko
Polje and Mokro Polje has ensured protection against floods for the City of Zagreb and the towns, villages and
households situated downstream of the rivers Sava, Kupa and their tributaries.We have also established the Nature
Park of Lonjsko Polje with about 30,000 ha of lowland forests and about 20,000 ha of pastureland.The diverse
plant and animal world makes this area unique in Europe.

The structure and the rich, live forest soil function as mechanical, biological and partly chemical purifiers of
precipitation water and of flood water in lowland areas.Thus purified, the water enters underground flows and
supplies water sources.All Croatian rivers that spring in the Croatian Dinaric range are drinkable at their source,
whicheo ipsorepresents huge potential of drinking water.With the addition of all their streams and forest sources,
this is an immeasurable, practically priceless value which we have so far done almost nothing to put to good
use.The Black Sea watershed, enriched by the water flows of the continental part of Croatia, is an additional
bonus.According to Mitscherlich from Otto 1994, of the overall amount of water that reaches the forest through
precipitation, one part filters through the soil and supplies underground flows with drinking water. During the
vegetation period, this accounts for 30 to 40 % and during the dormant period for 70 to 80 % of the amount.

Taking an average of 1,200 mm of precipitation in Croatia, the 2 million ha of fully canopied forests theoretically
purify about 13 billion tons of drinking water annually. How much of this amount we will use depends on
our needs and on good technologies.

The connoisseur who listed the days of forests, water and meteorology in this order must have had in mind
the dependence of forests on water and the influence of both on climate change and vice versa.The role of the
forest, which mitigates the glasshouse effect in the atmosphere through its function of carbon sequestration,
comes to its full effect here. This effect is certainly more pronounced in Croatian natural forests than in European
spruce monocultures.

In addition to ensuring drinking water, the forest also stops and mitigates high water waves. Aforest will
successfully intercept as much as 100 mm of precipitation fallen on a single occasion.The forest will still exert
its effect up to150 mm, but not over this amount.

There is a deeper intention in putting together forests, water and meteorology.We pr opose that the Forest
Day, the World Water Day and the Meteorological Day be marked by a different institution every year in the
form of a scientific symposium with Croatian and foreign cooperation.We propose that the symposium for the
year 2011 is organized by forestry, for the year 2012 by Water Management, and for the year 2013 by the State
Hydro-Meteorological Office.

The time has come for holding a discussion within a broader state framework concerning irrigation of agricultural
land for the purpose of producing pure ecological food. Such food will certainly find its buyers on the
European market.Water for irrigation should not be taken from the polluted rivers of Sava and Danube, but
should be pumped from water retentions on Psunj, Papuk and Dilj and brought to the fields by pipes using the
force of gravity.

Professor Emeritus Branimir Prpić, Ph.D.