Wild nature places are always attractive to people. Not only to travelers who are fond of extreme but also to tourists who are bothered by typical cities. In general, it’s our “born place”, something that we have been missing for ages already.
The wetlands of Slovenia are such beautiful places. Here you can find interesting biodiversity as well as unique places like Ljubljana Marshes or The Sečovlje Saltworks.
What is a Wetland?
At first glance, it seems just like wet soil. In fact, this is an entire ecosystem flooded by water. First of all, the main feature of it is the unique hydric soil. This means that all the vegetation should be able to live in such an environment. Therefore, this creates interesting kinds of aquatic plants. One of them, for example, is water lily.
Moreover, it is not the end of all the features. Wetlands are responsible for water filtering and storage, processing of carbon and nutrients, stabilization of shorelines, and support of animals. If some mentioned above factor was missing, the entire ecosystem could not work. Thus, organizations are raising public awareness and protection of those regions.
Wetlands exist on every continent. They can be categorized in freshwater, saltwater, and brackish ones; the last one is water that has more salinity than fresh water, but not enough to be recognized as seawater. There are such types of wetlands like a swamp, marsh, bog, fen, mangrove forest, carr, pocosin, floodplains, mire, vernal pool, sink, and others including several kinds of lakes.
The world’s biggest wetlands are the Amazon River basin, the West Siberian Plain, but here, in this article, we will consider only Slovenian ones. Believe me, they are the same interesting as the largest wetlands.
The Ljubljana Marshes (Slovene: Ljubljansko barje) are the biggest marsh in the country. A marsh is a wetland where herbaceous dominate in quantity rather than woody plants. In simple words, there are exceptional trees and a lot of grass and herbs in this territory. The Ljubljana Marshes cover 163 square kilometers (63 sq mi), which is estimated as 0.8% of the entire country.
The wetland is under the authority of such the municipalities as Borovnica, Brezovica, Ljubljana, Ig, Log-Dragomer, Škofljica, and Vrhnika.
It includes great biodiversity because of herbal plants, hence 135 km2 (52 sq mi) of the area is under the protection of mentioned above municipalities as a landscape park.
These territories attracted people many years ago, but at that time, it was only a shallow lake. Archeologists found the oldest wooden wheel in the world here, and prehistoric pile dwellings, built from about 5000 to 500 B.C. on the shores of the rivers of the wetland. Thus, UNESCO World Heritage Site protects these areas since 2011.
The place is very popular among balloonists.
The Sečovlje Saltworks
This is the largest Slovenian artificial salt pan created for extracting salt from the seawater. Moreover, they are the most northern Mediterranean saltworks. Here, salt if still produced in the traditional way. There is not so much left in the world of such a type.
In spite of the fact that it is an artificial building, it lays on the natural wetland that has nation-wide importance as a breeding place for waterbirds.
The Sečovlje Saltworks has been active since the 13th century. Thus, salt production established the natural and cultural heritage of Slovenians.
The salt produced here is labeled as Piran Salt (Slovene: Piranska sol) and has a mark of protected designation of origin status in the EU. Furthermore, in 1993, the ečovlje Saltworks was listed on Ramsar wetlands of international importance.
It covers 650 hectares (1,600 acres) in the mouth of the Dragonja. The area also includes the Sečovlje Salina Landscape Park, with The Museum of Salt-Making in Sečovlje that was awarded the Europa Nostra Prize for outstanding initiatives for the preservation of cultural heritage. The park covers 16.1 hectares (40 acres). Visitors here provide an important income for the part, hence local authorities are going to introduce electric public transport for visitors.
Flora of this area mainly consists of halophytes, the plants that require high salt concentrations for growing. The most popular and unique species here are Salicornia europea, Arthrochnemum fruticosum, Halimione portulacoides, Limonium angustifolium, Artemisia caerulescens, Suaeda maritima, and the golden samphire (Inula crithmoides).
Speaking about fauna, it is important to mention that the Sečovlje Saltworks is the home for 280 bird species. Furthermore, four of them have their nests only here. Also, there are marine habitats here like shrimps and shells here. Several bee species, Tetraloniella nana, and Pseudoapis bispinosa, the bug Dimorphopterus blissoides, the Etruscan shrew (Suncus etruscus), the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula), and the lesser mouse-eared bat (Myotis blythii) constantly live here for ages.
Those are a complex of karst caves in southwestern Slovenia. As you can see, they are part of the Slovenian wetland system and were included in the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance on 18 May 1999 as well. Moreover, together with the underground flow of the Reka River, they are one of the longest karst underground wetlands in Europe.
However, a long time before, in 1986, Škocjan Caves were included in UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites. Scientific circles acknowledged the importance of the caves and related them to the natural treasures of planet Earth. Škocjan Caves represent the underground phenomena on the Karst Plateau of Slovenia. After gaining independence, the government established Škocjan Caves Regional Park delegated responsibilities to the newly built authority, the Škocjan Caves Park Public Service Agency.
It is estimated at around 6,200 m (20,300 ft) of the explored length of caves. There, Škocjan Caves takes approximately 100,000 visitors every year. The first part of it was opened in 1933. They were Marinič Cave and Mahorčič Cave with Little Collapse Valley. However, they were terribly damaged by a flood in 1963. In 2011, there was a reopening. Now, there are held tours in Slovenian, English, Italian, and German here.
It is the nature plain with wetlands in the Municipality of Brežice in Slovenia. Now, it covers the area of 4.6 square kilometers (1.8 sq mi). The name of it came from the German Jauchsee which means a fetid lake.
Jovsi is the flood-zone wetland, thus it is covered by water regularly. Here about 80 species of birds have their nest. Therefore, it became one of the favorite places of ornithologists who are collecting extensive data throughout a year. Here were found the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), European roller (Coracias garrulus), black stork (Ciconia nigra), white stork (Ciconia ciconia), common snipe (Gallinago gallinago), corncrake (Crex crex), and lesser grey shrike (Lanius minor).
The area is protected as a nature park.
It is the lowest-lying lake in the Triglav Lakes Valley. The peculiarity of the name is the fact that its location, a basin in the middle of the forest, made a little of the sunshine going here. Therefore, for most of the day, the lake remains in the black color.
As the Black Lake is the lowest, this is the warmest as well lake in the valley. Usually, its summer temperature is 9 °C, and the winter one is 3 °C. The lake is 150 m long, 80 m wide, and it can be up to 6 m deep.
Here, it lives the Alpine Newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris). It is the lizard-like animal that is endemic to the Alps. This means that there is no place in the world where it would have originated from. Later it was introduced to Great Britain as well as to New Zealand.
The cultural significance of The Triglav Lakes Valley for Slovenians lies in the fact that definitely this is imaged on the Slovenian coat of arms. Marko Pogačnik, the Slovenian author and artist, stylized the valley with two wavy lines under the silhouette of the mountain Triglav.
The lake is located near Idrija, the town in western Slovenia. This is the karst spring of the Vauclusian type. This means that all the water of the lake comes upwards under pressure. Sometimes, this type is called the karst siphon lake. This is the reason why it has a relatively light blue color. Water goes from an underground tunnel source, which was explored only up to 160 meters. The volumetric flow rate of water going from there is 60 cubic meters per second.
Thus, the lake is the source of the Jezernica River, a tributary of the Idrijca. This is the shortest river in Slovenia, with only 55 meters long. On the other side, when the lake is low, there is no water outflow from it.
The lake was protected as a natural monument in 1967.
Wetlands Hidden Gems of Slovenia
Wetlands became the national hidden gem of Slovenia. At first glance, it seems that wet soils cannot be something interesting. On the other hand, they are whole ecosystems with flora, fauna, salt, karst, and much more interesting. This should be seen but not just read about. It’s your chance now to look at it in real life!