PUBLIC INSTITUTION NATURE PARK LASTOVO ISLANDS
The Lastovo Islands Nature Park is managed by the public institution Nature Park Lastovo Islands. The public institution was founded by the Government of the Republic of Croatia by adopting the Regulation establishing the Public Institution Lastovo Islands Nature Park. The operation of the institution is managed by a director appointed by the minister. The Institution is managed by a director, but the Management Board adopts all important documents and makes all decisions. It comprises of five members designated by the Minister of Environment and Energy, and makes its decisions at sessions of the Management Board.
The Institution protects, maintains and promotes the Nature Park with the aim of protecting, maintaining and promoting the protected area for the purpose of protection and management of nature, ensuring smooth operation of natural processes and sustainable use of natural resources, and the supervision of the conditions and measures of nature protection in the area it manages, and it participates in the collection of data for the purpose of monitoring the conservation of nature pursuant to the Nature Protection Act and other positive regulations.
NATURE PARK LASTOVO ISLANDS
Thanks to its mystical beauty, high landscape value, dense forests and fertile fields enriched with puddles, high coastal steeps, land and underwater caves and numerous marine and land species and habitats, on 29 September 2006 the Croatian Parliament declared the Lastovo archipelago a nature park, which makes it the eleventh and newest nature park in Croatia.
The Lastovo Islands nature park comprises 46 islands, islets, rocks and reefs (the largest of which are Lastovo and Sušac), covering a total surface area of 53 km2 and 143 km2 of sea surface. It is bounded by the lighthouses of Sušac, Tajan, Glavat and Struga.
Another factor contributing to the uniqueness of the Lastovo islands is the rich cultural and historic heritage: countless stone churches, picturesque fumari and the traditional Lastovo Poklad. We must not forget the local population, which proves that the co-existence of nature and man is possible with a heightened awareness of the ecology.
The archipelago of Lastovo is one of the richest and best-preserved areas of biodiversity in the Mediterranean. As a result of its isolated geographical position, the area is rich in endemic species and the richness of the seabed is due to the abundance and variety of the zooplankton.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has declared the area of the Park as one of the last ten treasures of biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea, also thanks to the diversity in the marine environment and in species. Thanks to the abundance and variety of the zooplankton, the underwater world of the Park is rich in corals, sponges, molluscs, Bryozoa, echinoderms, crabs and many other species. Among the endemic species of corals, the most beautiful ones are the red coral (Corallium rubrum) and the white coral (Amphihelia clever). The Neptune grass (Posidonia oceanica) is endemic to the Mediterranean Sea. Its meadows offer shelter and habitat for many species and are an important fish nursery site. They help in the stabilization of the seabed and contribute enormously to the production of oxygen in the Mediterranean Sea. The rocky floor is covered in photophilic algae, while the shallow coastal seabeds are covered in the endangered and protected Posidonia oceanica.
In the underwater world you can often find many protected species of molluscs and snails such as, for example, the giant tun (Tonna galea), the Triton’s trumpet (Charonia tritonis), the zoned mitre (Mitra zonata) and the noble pen shell (Pinna nobilis). The open waters of this area are the home of several species of dolphins – the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), and Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), as well as turtles – the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas).
Thanks to its position, the Lastovo archipelago has a mild Mediterranean climate, the climate of olives. It is one of the sunniest islands of the Adriatic, which is proven by an average 2700 hours of sunshine a year. The most frequent type of precipitation is rain; it rarely hails, and snow is a rare occurrence. Humidity is an important factor for the vegetation, which makes up for the rain during the dry season. Around 70% of the islands is covered in woods, which makes Lastovo the woodiest Croatian island next to Mljet. Typical representatives of the plant world include the Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and the holm oak (Quercus ilex), two species very resistant to the influence of the sea. There are over 700 plant species one can find in the archipelago of Lastovo, 15 of which are endemic species such as Centaurea ragusina, Mauritania grass (Ampelodesmos mauretanica), biserrula (Biserrula pelecinus ssp. dalmatic) and Iris adriatica (Iris Adriatica). An interesting fact is that on the island of Lastovo there are no poisonous snakes and inside the park there is only one species of snake, the so-called Caspian whipsnake (Dolichophis caspius).
The karst composition of Lastovo was favourable for the creation of caves. The most popular cave is the Rača cave in the south-eastern park of the island, which was protected as a geo-morphological monument of nature and an archaeological site in 1965, and Medjedina, once the habitat of the Mediterranean monk seal, which is today known for large populations of bats.
The Lastovo archipelago is an important resting place for many migratory birds, and is the nesting place of the Mediterranean shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) and the Scopoli’s shearwater (Calonectris diomedea). The eastern groups of Lastovnjaci and Vrhovnjaci are the nesting place of around 70% of the Croatian population of the globally endangered Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii). The cliffs of Struga (Velike stijene) are the nesting place of the rare Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae).
Lastovo night sky is the second darkest sky in Europe, where the Milky Way and many other galaxies can be seen by the naked eye.