Karstic fields are very dynamic ecosystems which need special attention in terms of environmental management, especially in cases when they are shared between several countries. The CBC project »Sustainable use of water and water resources for Imotsko – Bekijsko field« (IM-BE Field) funded by the EU under the IPA Cross-border Programme is dealing with such a case, the aim being to prepare an integral water management plan for the entire Imotsko – Bekijsko field watershed area. Imotsko-Bekijsko field is a vast inland karstic plain roughly between Split and Mostar that is partially flooded in winter and quite dry in the summer. It is on a large water resource and has a huge potential for agriculture due to its mild climate and vicinity of the coastal tourist centres and major transport routes; however, it is also very vulnerable to pollution.

The project is estimated to cost roughly € 690,000 and involves several partners on both sides of the border, namely the Split-Dalmatia County, Canton of Western Herzegovina, Regional Development Agencies RERA from Split and HERAG from Posušje as well as Municipality  of Grude and several others. The project is based on the requirements of EU Water Framework Directive and the development tendencies in the area of Imotsko-Bekijsko field. Agro-economic study will be prepared, followed by a conceptual design of irrigation & drainage system and an Environmental Impact Assessment and Cost – benefit Analysis for the planned investment. The principles of integrated water management, sustainable agriculture and risk management is being promoted among the local population through workshops and seminars.

One of the planned dissemination activities, a 2-day seminar was implemented by Oikos. The participants were representatives of all the municipalities in the Imotsko-Bekijsko field watershed area, the Split-Dalmatia County, Canton of Western Herzegovina, Agricultural Advisory Service, Croatian Waters and several NGOs. Environmental concepts and legislation was presented and discussed in the transboundary context, followed by the presentation of environmental impacts of agriculture in karstic fields and waste management requirements. Best practices of watershed management were presented from other similar karstic fields, as well as potential funding sources. On the basis of the discussion and current situation in the Imotsko-Bekijsko field, a list of potential projects for future environmental management and development of sustainable agriculture was defined and options for their implementation discussed with the participants. The list of projects will serve for development of further activities when the agro-economic study and irrigation & drainage conceptual design will be finished.