Danube Virtual Museum

Landscape of Outstanding Features “Veliko ratno ostrvo”

In the magnificent landscape where the river Sava empties into the Danube, in the triangle confined by the cities of Belgrade and Zemun, with the remains of once vast swamps and marshland on the left riverbank of the Danube, two Danube river island are positioned - Veliko ratno ostrvo and Malo ratno ostrvo.

These are the two last oases of pristine nature, separated by water from the urban heart of the capital of Serbia, thus occupying the space between two opposite natural structures, the Pannonian plain and the Balkans. The island, to the south and southeast, overlooks the protected Belgrade Fortress and the silhouette of old Belgrade with a prominent bell tower of the Cathedral church of St. Michael the Archangel (Saborna crkva). To the northwest, the waterline of Dunavac is followed by a quay in the old center of Zemun, dominated by the Gardoš tower, whereas a dynamic panorama of tall skyscrapers built after World War II, follows the coast to the mouth of the Sava river into the Danube. As a counterpoint to the urban image which reveals many centuries of architectural influence, there are to the northeast, across the Danube, between the coast and the embankment, the preserved remains of former Danube marshes and swamps. The total surface area of 211.38 hectares of "Veliko ratno ostrvo" was protected in 2005.

The characteristics of the area

These two river islands are representative morphological and geological formations made from an underwater sandbank that has emerged above the water surface during the 16th century.

The surface layers of the islands are alluvial formations of the Danube, and they represent terrestrial ecosystems in a wider zone of the river impact. The rich vegetation consists of aquatic and swamp communities, as well as the communities of alluvial forests of the white willow (Salix alba), almond willow (Salix amygdalina), crack willow (Salix fragilis), Lombardy poplar (Populus nigra), green ash (Fraxinus viridis), and desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Such well - developed vegetation, along with the presence of wide open water surfaces, provide food and place for nesting and reproduction of a large number of internationally important bird species, such as the garganey (Anas querquedula), ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca), yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), and many other.

The fish fauna consists of species that live in both rivers - the Sava and the Danube. During the spawning period, they enter the ephemeral or permanent ponds on the islands and their surroundings, rich in aquatic and marsh vegetation. This locality, where the dynamics of the Danube water level changes is reflected, and isolated from anthropogenic influences, is proclaimed as one of the natural fish spawning places as well.

Protection regimes

Three zones with different protection regimes are determined for the total surface of "Veliko ratno ostrvo" categorized as an important natural area.

Nature protection zone (protection regime of degree I) has the character of a special nature reserve and includes Malo ratno ostrvo on the whole, the coastal zone of "Veliko ratno ostrvo", forest areas, wetlands within Veliko ratno ostrvo and the water surface around Malo ratno ostrvo.

Recreation zone (protection regime of degree II) involves the internal parts of "Veliko ratno ostrvo", the former farmland still used in this way, grasslands of coastal area towards Dunavac, which are now partly occupied by illegal buildings, and the location of the public pier with controlled traffic route and safety zone with a width of 10 m connecting this site with Lido beach.

The third zone - the tourism zone includes Lido beach with the planned expansion of Lido where an offer of tourist - recreational activities and new facilities could be provided.

In addition to these protection regimes, the protection regimes established by the law and regulations governing the management of international waterways, protection of water supply and water management facilities, wetlands protection, and the protection of hunting and fishing reserves are also applied.

International status

Important Bird Area (IBA)

Emerald area (Emerald- European Ecological Network of Protected Natural Areas)

Landscape of Outstanding Features “Veliko ratno ostrvo”


(Text: Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia)