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Habitats City Bureau for Physical Planning Zagreb Ivana Vojnić Rogić

Habitats ď °

The Zagreb area has habitats, flora and fauna typical of the southern parts of Central Europe exposed to influences from the Alps, the Dinaric Alps, the Mediterranean, and the Pannonian plain

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Preserved natural and seminatural habitats, particularly important on a European level, have to be protected according to the Habitats Directive, Bern Convention and EUROBATS.

Croatian Habitats Map extraction for the City of Zagreb

Basic habitat types in the City of Zagreb Habitat type


% of the City area

Urban and infrastructural area



Agricultural area without grasslands



Forests and shrubs



Semi-natural grasslands (pastures and meadows) City parks Other public and private green areas Surface waters










Habitat type

Riparian formations Description 

Continental softwood bushes and gallery forest of White Willow (Salix alba), and White and Black Poplar (Populus alba and P. nigra) existed along all Sava River banks and oxbows before river regulation

on the list of endangered habitats of the Resolution No. 4 of the Bern Convention Riparian formations downstream of Zagreb (foto N.Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Riparian formations ď °

Today only remnants of this habitat type exist in the City area and they are very important for some bird and bat species

Gallery forest of Savica wetland area (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Alluvial forests with Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) Description 

Alluvial forests with Alder and Ash grow in micro depressions in which water is retained during most of the year and the groundwater causes initial swamp formation

Belongs to different forest communities, and they are all endangered due to changes in habitat and the water regime caused by soil irrigation and backfilling of microdepressions

Annex I of the Habitats Directive

Alluvial Ash forest with Spring Snowflake (foto J. Topić)

Habitat type

Alluvial forests with Alder (Alnus glutinosa) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) 

This habitat type is important for several amphibians and one reptile: 

 

Yellow-bellied and Fire-bellied Toad (Bombina variegata and B. bombina) Agile Frog (Rana dalmatina) Italian Crested Newt (Triturus carnifex) the European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis) Yellow-bellied Toad (foto M. Vuković)

European Pond Terrapin (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Riparian mixed forests of Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) along the great rivers Description 

Typical Pedunculate Oak forests of alluvial plains in the western part of the Pannonian plain are very rich in amphibians (12 species) and mammals (35 species)

Most of these forests have been cleared from the city area, with only some patches remaining south of the Sava River, in the plains near the Vukomericke Gorice hills

Annex I of the Habitats Directive

Pedunculate Oak forest (foto J. Topić)

Habitat type

Acidophilous Castanea sativa woods and Beech forests (Luzulo-Fagetum) Description 

Beech forest communities in deeper eroded soils and silicates are abundant in the submountain belt of Medvednica Mountain.

Poor in plant and animal species, but are characterized by numerous moss and mushroom species

Typical plants are the Woodrush and Bracken. In autumn this forest type is visited by numerous citizens, who collect chestnuts and edible mushrooms.

Annex I of the Habitats Directive

Southern slopes of Medvednica Mountain–mosaic of different forest types with flowering Chestnut trees (Castanea sativa) on acid soil (foto M. Vuković)

Habitat type

Illyrian Oak-Hornbeam forests (Erythronio-Carpinion) Description 

climazonal Central European forest community with numerous relict IllyrianBalkan species, typical of the western part of inland Croatia

besides Sessile Oak and Hornbeam, the characteristic plant for this forest type is the Dogtooth Violet

because of favourable ecological conditions and soil characteristics, this forest type is often cleared and used for agriculture or urbanized

Dogtooth Violet (foto J. Topić)

Habitat type

Illyrian Oak-Hornbeam forests (Erythronio-Carpinion) Description ď °

These forests are found on hilly grounds and are rich in plant species and some endangered animals, like the most threatened butterfly, Fenton's Wood White (Leptidea morsei) in the area surrounding Zagreb

ď °

Annex I of the Habitats Directive Illyrian Oak-Hornbeam forests (City Bureau for Physical Planning documentation)

Habitat type

Montane Beech forests (Lamio orvalae – Fagetum) and mixed Beech and Fir Forest (Abieti – Fagetum) Description 

From 400 m a.s.l. to the top of Medvednica Mountain are broadleaved forests with dominant Beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees, mixed with Fir (Abies alba) in the higher regions

They have several typical European plants like Sanicle (Sanicula europaea), but are enriched with Illyrian plants like Hacquetia (Hacquetia epipactis). Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) are typical in more humid areas

The characteristic animals are: the Rosalia Longicorn (Rosalia alpina), and Barbastelle Bat (Barbastella barbastellus); in creek valleys, the Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva); and in higher areas the Bullfinch (Pyrhula pyrhula)

Snow in winter and colder fresh air in summer make this forest type very attractive for citizens

Habitat type

Thermophile woods of Querco-Ostryetum type Description 

The driest parts of the Medvednica hills are the mostly steep limestone or dolomite slopes of western exposition, covered with thermophile woods of Hophornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia) and Pubescent Oak (Quercus pubescens) This habitat is characterised by yellow flowering Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas) early in the spring

The Woods are rich in ground cover plants too, like Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and several orchid species (Orchidaceae) The Chequered Blue (Scolitantides orion) Butterfly appears in late spring, and the Great Banded Grayling (Brintesia circe) is seen in early summer A characteristic bird is the Barred Warbler (Sylvia nosoria)

Habitat type

Creeks Description 

From a formerly large network of mountain and lowland creeks, only those in the Medvednica Nature Park remain in a natural condition

Characteristic animals in this limestone area are the Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens), European Dipper (Cinclus cinclus), Gold-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster heros), Stone Crayfish (Austropotamobius torrentium) and Zagreb Niphargid Shrimp (Niphargus elegans zagrebensis)

Stone Crayfish (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Underground interstitial water habitat Description ď ° Formed by water filling the spaces between gravel in the alluvial bedrock under the City. Several small crustaceans (Niphargus spp. etc.) and some other interstitial invertebrates are responsible for underground water cleaning. ď °

There is a system of potable water reserves and sources of sanitary protection so some important underground areas of this habitat type are protected against pollution

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Subthermal underground interstitial waters are a special type of this habitat and are distributed in only a few localities in the City area. The most famous locality is near Dolje creek in Podsused area, and has unique interstitial crustaceans, such as the small isopode Protelsonia hungarica thermalis. Unfortunately natural subthermal springs near Dolje creek were under the road after 1968, and the creek is a concrete canal today.

Habitat type

Swamps (reeds, etc.) and water vegetation Description 

Swamp vegetation and typical water vegetation develop near lakes (Bundek, Jarun, Rakitje, Maksimir), and canals

Reeds are nursery places for birds like the Little Bittern, and are rich in invertebrates, representing foraging habitat and shelter for several birds in migration and wintering

Water vegetation is very important in providing spawning sites for several fish species, and as a foraging area for the European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis)

Savica (foto Z.Zrnčević)

Habitat type

Caves (not open to the public) with bat nursery colonies Description 

Oases with calcareous and dolomite bedrock are encountered on the eastern and western slopes of Medvednica Mountain. In addition to surface karst forms on this bedrock type, numerous smaller caves, and one larger, have been recorded.

Habitats of endemic cave animals and function as bat shelters

Annex I of the Habitats Directive, EUROBATS, Handbook for Inventory and Status Monitoring

Habitat type

Caves (not open to the public) with bat nursery colonies 

Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus euryale) and Schreiber’s Bat (Miniopterus schreibersi) have their nursery summer colonies in caves in the Zagreb area

Caves are also important wintering sites for several bat species

Greater Horseshoe Bat (foto N. Tvrtković)


Habitat type

Hedges of Corno-Ligustretum type Description 

In the Zagreb city area hedges originate in abandoned grasslands and agricultural land. They consist of several native bushes like Common Dogwood, Buckthorn, European Privet, Dog Rose and some small trees like Field Maple

Common Snowdrop flowers in January and February

Very important as shelter for some common birds like Blackbird and several small reptiles and amphibians like the Green Lizard and Common Toad

Green Lizard (foto M. Vuković)

Habitat type

Hedges of Corno-Ligustretum type ď °

This is a feeding habitat for Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) caterpillars and for some nearthreatened animals like the Common Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius)

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Invasive alien bushes and climbing plants represent a threat to this habitat because they change its characteristics and reduce food supply for native animals

Habitat type Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometea) with important orchid sites Description 

Dry grasslands and their successional stages to climazonal habitats of dry thermophilous Oak-Hornbeam forests, particularly on the southern and western slopes, shelter both widely distributed Mediterranean butterfly species like the Chalk-hill Blue and Ascalaphus Owl-fly, and species characteristic of the dry eastern part of the Pannonian plain like the Blue and Yellow Flax

Annex I of the Habitats Directive and Handbook for Inventory and Status Monitoring

Dry grassland in Podsused (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometea) with important orchid sites 

These habitats are home to numerous plants, particularly orchids, and endangered insect species

In a typical semi-natural community the native Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) dominates

These semi-natural grasslands and scrub facies are traditionally mowed once, rarely twice a year

Dry grasslands in Cucerje (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Semi-natural grasslands of Arrhenatheretum elatioris type Description 

In the past this was the most common grassland community but currently it is very rare in Zagreb area due to urbanisation There are some remnants of this habitat type in the southern part of the City

Traditionally they are mowed twice or thrice a year

Unfortunately, they are manured excessively thus decreasing diversity. In particular some flowering plants important for butterflies and other invertebrates are lacking. So gradually the colourful meadows are becoming more uniform.

Habitat type

Semi-natural wet grasslands of Deschampsietum cespitosae type Description 

Semi-natural wet grasslands are found on a specific type of poorly permeable soil typical of the central Posavina region

characterized by a specific micro-relief of hillocks overgrown with Tufted Hairgrass that retains water in spring and autumn

in spring time the first flowers are the White Cuckoo Flower and Spring Snowflake, followed by Yellow Meadow Buttercups and Little Marsh Dandelion, and in late spring the Rose-coloured Ragged Robin appears

Wet grassland in late spring (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Semi-natural wet grasslands of Deschampsietum cespitosae type 

This habitat has been maintained by grazing or mowing once a year, and is home to some threatened species of butterflies and to Corncrake, a threatened bird listed on Annex I of the Birds Directive

Some sites within this habitat are urbanized or drained and spread with manure to increase the quality of hay, all of which inevitably lead to changes in the natural community

Other sites are abandoned and left to vegetation succession

Wet grassland in autumn (foto N. Tvrtković)

Habitat type

Pools Description 

The number of pools has decreased in the last century

Probably most of the natural pools in creek valleys and most of the artificial pools are lost due to changes in traditional agriculture management

Remaining pools are very important for amphibians like Italian Crested Newt, European Tree Frog, Yellowbellied Toad and Agile Frog, and some threatened dragonflies

Agile Frog (foto M. Vuković)


Habitat type

Parks and other public green areas Description ď °

Parks and other public green areas with trees, bushes and grasslands inside urban areas are potential shelters and foraging areas for bats, birds, butterflies and invertebrates

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These artificial habitats are important areas for future green corridors

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They are potentially places of great educational importance

Park Maksimir (foto Studio Hrg)

Habitat type

Gardens Description ď °

Gardens with natural hedges, small pools, grasslands and diverse trees are common in all old parts of the city, and some elite city parts on lower slopes of Medvednica Mountain

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The gardens, together with public green areas, are very important for preserving natural biodiversity in the city

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They represent potential shelter and a corridor for common animals like the Northern White-breasted Hedgehog, Blackbird, Common Toad and Common Wall Lizard, and several threatened species

Habitat type

''Gorice'' (orchards and vineyards with huts) Description 

Orchards and vineyards with small woodlands, grasslands and traditional huts on the lower parts of Medvednica Mountain and Vukomericke Gorice hills are remnants of a former widespread traditional rural area.

These areas are interesting and very important seminatural and artificial habitats for several animal species like the Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Red-backed Shrike, Green Lizard, Common Wall Lizard, Green Toad, Italian Crested Newt

Vineyard in Gračani (foto I.Vojnić Rogić)

Habitat type

Agricultural land Description ď °

Habitat for cosmopolitan species and those of less importance

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The use of non biological measures like pesticides in agricultural land management has negative influence on adjacent semi-natural and natural habitats

Habitat type

River with gravel and earthy banks Description ď °

After the loss of gravel islets, gravel banks become important for small nesting populations of Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleuca)

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Because of pollution, canalisation and loss of oxbow lakes, only remnants of rich ichthyofauna exist: Bitterling, Stone Gudgeon, Vimba, Burbot and Balkan Loach, but with a large population of alien Gibel Carp

Habitat type

Artificial lakes Description 

Zagreb has several artificial lakes like Jarun, Bundek, Savica lakes and lakes in Park Maksimir.

They are refuges of some former Sava River fauna like the Asp, European Pond Terrapin, Dice Snake and European Crayfish, and habitat for some invasive species like the South-American Coypu and North-American Redeared Slider Turtle

Lakes are also important rest places for migratory and wintering birds


Habitat type

Drainage canals Description ď °

Depending on level of pollution, drainage canals in the lowlands are substitutions for former creeks and streams

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Habitats for some swamp water vegetation, but generally poor in animal species

Habitat type

Mines, tunnels, cellars Description 

This type of artificial habitat is important for wintering bats like the Barbastelle Bat and Bechstein’s Bat, and for some butterflies like the Brimstone, Peacock Butterfly, Small Tortoiseshell, and also several moths

listed in the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS)

Habitat type

Attics of buildings, church lofts, facades and roofs Description 

Buildings with open attics, church lofts, roofs and other types of shelters are very important for urban biodiversity Attics are potential shelters for nursery colonies of bats like:      

Greater Horseshoe Bat Lesser Horseshoe Bat Kuhl’s Pipistrelle Geoffroy’s Bat Noctule Bat Alpine Long-eared Bat

Attics are nesting places for owls like the Common Barn Owl

The White Stork nests on roofs; Swallow and House Martin make nests on facades

Construction of new and renovation of old buildings should provide substantial habitats for the species mentioned above

Attics of buildings are listed in the Agreement on the Conservation of Bats in Europe (EUROBATS)

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