Beljarica (Serbian: Бељарица) is a wetland in the Danube valley in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Since 2013 it is in the process of becoming protected area. Due to the abundant wildlife and undisturbed nature, though being close to downtown Belgrade, it has been nicknamed "Belgrade's Amazonia".
Beljarica is located northwest of Belgrade, in the southwest corner of the Pančevački Rit marshland and, thus, of the Banat region. It begins 15 km (9.3 mi) from downtown and spawns along the left bank of the Danube, approximately from Danube's 1,175 km (730 mi) to 1,190 km (740 mi). It belongs to the municipality of Palilula and, though inhabited, it is administratively divided between the settlements of Borča (southern), Kovilovo (central) and Padinska Skela (northern part).
It begins north of the point where the Pupin Bridge crosses the Danube and stretches across several neighborhoods and settlements on the left, Syrmian bank: Nova Galenika, 13. Maj, Batajnica (in the municipality of Zemun) and Novi Banovci (in the municipality of Stara Pazova).
Beljarica occupies the marshland between the left bank of the Danube and the curved embankment which protects the drained and arable land in Pančevački Rit. Northern section is known as the bog of Široka Bara. It covers an area of 18.6 km2 (7.2 sq mi) and is locally also known as "Crvenka" or "Balaton".
As an elongated floodplain along the Danube, Beljarica is a typical green corridor. The marshland represents a mosaic of bogs, streams, oxbows, meanders and lush forests and makes a natural riparian zone which receives the surplus of water during the high water level of the Danube, thus preventing the flooding downstream.
The wetland is home to 216 plant species, 139 species of insects and 98 species of fish. Beljarica is a major fish spawning and bird nesting area. Of 136 bird species which live in Beljarica, 108 are protected. There are several nesting couples of the largest European eagle, white-tailed eagle, and the black stork also lives in the area.
Protection and human interaction
As Serbia is a signatory of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats and the Birds Directive, the state is obliged to protect such an abundant bird habitat. Additionally, since Beljarica is in the "process of becoming a protected area", as the nature reserve, since 2013, it considered as the protected until the government decides whether it will declare it a reserve or not. Additionally, with the islands of Veliko Ratno Ostrvo and Malo Ratno Ostrvo, it constitutes the Important Bird Area of the "Sava's mouth into the Danube".
In 2015, city assembly was to vote on declaring the reserve of the "Wetland on the Danube's left bank in Belgrade", which was even envisioned as the core of the future "National Park Belgrade" but the motion was withdrawn before the vote. After President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping visited Serbia in 2016, it was announced that the large, new port of Belgrade will be built in the central part of Beljarica. The proposed area of the future port is almost half of the wetland and should cover 8.72 km2 (3.37 sq mi) in its central part.
Environmentalists protested stating that the partial urbanization and industrialization will fragment the wetland and that remaining small patches of marsh will not be able to sustain such an abundant wildlife. Petition for the preservation of Beljarica was organized in June 2017. By 2017 the proposal of the new port was temporarily retracted for additional revisions.
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