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news 29 Aug 12

Fires Threaten to Wipe Out Bosnia's Rarest Plants

Numerous rare species in Bosnia's countryside are under severe threat, an ecology expert says, owing to the fires that have been rampaging for weeks.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

The forest fires that have hit Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the rest of the region, this summer, have not only damaged people's property.

They have also destroyed thousands of trees and herbs, possibly posing an existential threat to some rare species.

Professor Sulejman Redzic, an ecology expert, told Balkan Insight that although it is hard to tell precisely what species have suffered most in recent days, many rare types of trees and herbs have clearly suffered badly in the fires.

“Having in mind my knowledge of the flora and fauna in the river Neretva area and the sites around Konjic, Mostar and Mt Prenj, I would say that some endemic species may even have gone,” Redzic said.

Redzic said that some appear to grow only around Lake Boracko, on the hill near Konjic, half-way between Sarajevo and Mostar, where firemen and locals have been fighting a large fire since last week.

“The habitats of many animals have also been destroyed there and it could take years for them to recover and for many herbs to grow again,” Redzic explained.

“The destruction of animal and plant habitats by fire will lead to a breakdown in communication even among those species that survived the blazes,” the ecologist added.

Among the endangered plant species, he named the Illirian black pine, the Herzegovinian milkweed, Herzegovinian sage, Moellendorff radish and Herzegovinian dotted thyme.

He criticized the authorities, saying the government should have had a better plan on how to control the fires.

“There are many open questions there,” Redzic said.

“Reports that the fires were planted [deliberately mean that]... it's important to find out who was responsible for this 'ecocide,'” he continued.

There are around 5,000 endemic species in Bosnia, while Redzic says that he himself has found nearly 700 on the sites of the Mt Prenj, Mt Cvrsnica and Mt Cabulja alone.

“Every species has a significant role... but Bosnia is the only country in the world that does not even have a list of its own endemic species,” the professor complained.


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