Labudovo Okno is in the southeast of the Banat district. It includes the area of the Danube and its flood plains on the southern fringe of the Pannonian Plain. It is located between the Deliblato Sands to the north and the Ramsko Jezero lake to the south. The region encompasses the river and banks of the Danube, the river islands of Žilava and Čibuklija, the flooded meanders of the Karaš river, the mouth of the Nera, Ada Zavojska, the Dunavče and a narrow strip of the right bank of the Danube.
Labudovo Okno came about due to a slowing of the Danube after construction of the reservoir at Djerdap. It got its name from the swans (labud means `swan´) which gather in part of the wetland every year. There are no springs or water-courses on the shores of the sands, but on the alluvial plains of the Danube, subterranean waters have formed permanent ponds in the sand-hollows which during times of higher water-levels and flooding combine with one another and with the river.
Various water habitats are present at Labudovo Okno - permanent flowing river habitats, river shallows, alluvial forests and freshwater swamps - and the area is a patchwork of diverse plant communities, from aqueous and swamp varieties (pheasant´s eye, blue glow globe thistle, and various mushrooms), to those living in the wet meadows and steppe pastures. Labudovo Okno is one of the last refuges of some increasingly rare aqueous and endangered swampland plant species, of which the most important are the white waterlily and yellow waterlily, sweet flag and the orchids. The moisture loving woodlands are populated by willows, poplars, sloe, pedunculate oak, old man´s beard and fungi.
The area is the most important nesting, wintering and migratory stopover site for wading birds in Serbia. Labudovo Okno is a nesting site for 55 wetland bird species, of which most are on the list of natural rarities. This is the most important wintering site in the Balkans for the Greater White-fronted Goose, Greylag Goose, Common Goldeneye, White-tailed Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle. Labudovo Okno is also the most important nesting site for the Pygmy Cormorant in Serbia and the only nesting site of the Eastern Glossy Ibis. Every year the area ensures the survival of more than 20,000 wading birds, while during migration, mating and wintering more than 40,000 Little Egret, Common Pochard and Smew have been known to gather here. The sandy banks of the Danube are also home to the largest colony of Sand Martin in Europe, numbering some 15,000 mating pairs.
The marshes and shallows of the Danube are an ideal spawning ground for a great many fish species. Some 50 species of fish have been recorded here, of which the most important are carp, pike, catfish, perch and sterlet.
The area is also rich in freshwater molluscs including river mussels, live-bearing snails and leeches, which form the basis of the food chain. The most numerous category of fauna are arthropods, with some 15,000 species of insect. There are a large number of species whose life cycles are tied to the sandy soil of the banks: burrowing wasps of varying species, burrowing bugs (Cynidae) and beetles, many of which are endemic. The steppe areas are home to the European garden spider. The water habitats are also home to insects such as the mosquito, dragonfly and diving beetles, as well as water spiders and crayfish. With 24 species of amphibian and reptile, this is a unique and very rich environment and the most important centre for Ponto-Caspian and east Mediterranean species in Europe. Here we find the eastern spadefoot toad, the European fire-bellied toad, Balkan wall lizard, the European green lizard and the large whip snake.
Of the 39 mammal species, the most important is the lesser mole rat, which is on the International Red List of threatened species. This region is their most important breeding ground in the Pannonian Plain. This is also true of the barbastelle bat which is endangered in the whole of Europe and which relies on these wetland and marshy habitats for feeding. Pond and marsh habitats are also populated by a permanent micropopulation of otters.
Numerous archaeological sites and the remains of three fortresses testify to long human habitation and the significance of this crossing of land routes and waterways. The local population continues to preserve traditional occupations such as fishing, sheep-farming, cattle-farming and beekeeping, and in the wider region maize, wheat, sunflower and apple-farming, as well as grape-growing.
INFORMATIONJP "Vojvodinašume" Šumsko gazdinstvo "Banat" Maksima Gorkog 24, 26000 Pančevo tel: +381 (0)13 342-899 www.vojvodinasume.rs
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