River Sava

The Sava River is one of the most interesting and complex European rivers. It is formed by the confluence of two Slovenian rivers - the Sava Bohjinjka and the Sava Dolinka, both of which have an extremely interesting formation as well. The magnificent, 78-meter-high waterfall Savica is located close to Bohinj.Water from Savica falls into Lake Bohinj, from which then a short river called Jezernica emerges and after only 100 meters connects with the Mostnica stream, forming the Sava Bohinjka. The Sava Dolinka, on the other hand, springs as the Nadiža stream in the Tamar valley in the Julian Alps. At an altitude of 1222 m it sinks under the surface and springs again as the Sava Dolinka 5 kilometres further. For the next 45 kilometres it flows through valleys near Kranjska Gora, through Jesenice, between Bled and Berg, and at Radovljica it merges with the Sava Bohinjka into the Sava River.

Did you know?

Along its entire course, the Sava receives water from nearly 250 tributaries!
At its source, the Sava is only a few meters wide, but at the mouth with the Danube in Belgrade, it is almost 300 meters wide. A variety of different habitats can be found along Sava's 926-kilometre long course. In the upper part is a real karst river: fast, wild and clear, and towards the mouth it is slower and more turbid. Together with tributaries such as the Ljubljanica, Sutla, Kupa, Una, Vrbas, Bosnia and Drina, the Sava River Basin is one of the best preserved and most diverse river systems in Europe. Even though a large part of the river has been highly modified by the construction of numerous large hydropower plants in Slovenia, the rest of the course is still very well preserved. Despite the general public opinion that the Sava River is polluted, it is still in exceptionally good condition and the number of protected areas whose main phenomenon is the Sava River is the proof. As much as 64% of its course is protected in various categories, and some areas have a significant global value, such as the Lonjsko polje Nature Park, included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Sava River supplies underground water reservoirs and surrounding fields with large quantities of water. It is an important element of landscape diversity and a habitat for many species. The active part of the floodplain, which is flooded during high waters, is crucial for fish spawning and the completion of the life cycle of many organisms. Let us not forget that, during that period, the underground water reservoirs along the river and its tributaries are renewed. All these elements together make an extremely precious and valuable ecosystem that we must protect because many lives and the economy depend on it.

Did you know?

As the Sava River is well preserved, in it and along we can find many rare and endangered species and habitats. Along the river there are vast fertile areas used for food production and large floodplain pedunculate oak forests that are unique in Europe.

The partitioning of the river due to the construction of hydroelectric power plants, excessive sediment extraction, the development of navigation and the development of the so-called grey infrastructure for flood defence are the biggest threats for the Sava River. Barriers in the river prevent the migration of aquatic organisms and the transport of sediment, which is why incision of the riverbed is happening and the groundwater level has been lowered by few meters. By disrupting the water's ecosystem, natural purifiers - organisms that feed on organic matter - disappear. If the trend of lowering groundwater continues, forests and agricultural areas will dry out even more. It will also seriously endanger water wells from which the city of Zagreb and other settlements get its drinking water. Not to mention the stability of buildings near the river, which would be greatly disrupted.

At the international level, the management of the Sava River is based on the Sava River Basin Management Plan implemented by the International Sava River Basin Commission. All the states along the Sava's course have formed several national bodies that manage the river within their scope of activities and competencies.

Members of the SavaParks Network also participated in the development of different publications such as the Sava White Book and the Eco-Master Plan for Balkan Rivers, which provide recommendations for river management based on the latest knowledge and offer solutions for sustainable river management for the benefit of people and nature. The Sava White Paper is available on this website under the category "Publications", and the Eco-master plan for Balkan Rivers was developed by RiverWatch from Austria and EuroNatur from Germany and is available on their websites or at this link.

©SavaParks Network 2020.        Disclaimer        E-mail: info@savaparks.eu