Lonjsko polje is located in the central part of Croatia, bordered by the slopes of Moslavačka gora (mountain) and by the highway Zagreb – Slavonski Brod on the north and by the river Sava on the south side. With an area of 50,650 hectares it is one of the largest protected wetlands along the river Danube.
In 1990 Lonjsko polje was proclaimed the Nature Park, and in 1993 it was included in the Ramsar List. In the framework of the Pan-European strategy on biodiversity and landscape in 1995, the IUCN declared Lonjsko polje as a prime example of the practical planning of protection of rural areas in Central Europe. Special (ornithological) Reserve Krapje đol is the oldest armlet of the river Sava, and some characteristic rare species and plant communities that live in the armlet were described for the first time in Krapje đol precisely. The armlet is protected as an ornithological reserve because of the nesting of spoonbill and several heron species: the grey heron, the purple heron, the little egret, the squacco heron, the black-crowned night heron, the little bittern and the ferruginous duck.
The fundamental ecological phenomenon is flooding, and is caused by the dynamics of the river Sava and its tributaries – Lonja, Pakra, Struga, Una and Kupa. Powerful waves of water from the Alpine and Dinaric mountains can raise Sava up to 10 m, and such hydrological and geomorphologic processes create a huge variety of habitats. Therefore, in the Park almost all European plant species of marsh and wetland habitats can be found, and the rare species – four leaf clover (Marsilea quadrifolia) stands out.
The largest complexes of natural and preserved flooded lowland forests of Europe and beyond are located exactly in the area of the Nature Park Lonjsko polje. They have an invaluable biological and landscape value. Flooded lowland forests of oak, ash and alder cover almost 70% of the park.
In Lonjsko polje 248 species of birds have been recorded, of which the most important are marsh birds – Stork (Ciconia ciconia), the black stork (Ciconia nigra), spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), white-tailed (Heliaeetus albicilla), as well as various species of heron, and many migratory birds use large pasture complexes and water areas in the park as the winter and feeding place.
In this area, the traditional way of livestock breeding is still preserved, where livestock after flooding resides in the large open common pastures. In this way were created the original breeds that preserve the identity of the area. They are characterized by adaptation to extreme conditions of survival in the open. They have a strong constitution of the body, and the social component of behaviour essential for the preservation of grazing on large pastures complexes. The indigenous species in the Nature Park Lonjsko polje are: the Croatian Posavac and Croatian Draughthorse, the Turopolje pig, the Slavonian-Syrmian Podolian cow, the Posavina goose, and the Posavina hound.
The picturesque villages with traditional Posavina wooden houses located along the river Sava and backwaters are perfectly integrated into the landscape and reflect the strict organization of space subordinated to the water and flood. One of these is Čigoč, the first declared European stork village and Krapje – Architectural Heritage Village. The Village Mužilovčica should also be mentioned, Repušnica and Osekovo, which offer outstanding views of Lonjsko polje (field), whether flooded or dry.
The ancient landscape of the floodplain, authentic culture of Posavina, the bed of the river Sava and its many tributaries, as well as the wealth of rare plant and animal species are the main motive for visiting the Nature Park Lonjsko polje. In the park you can rent a bike and enjoy the beautiful Sava river valley landscape and bird watching. Visitors have access to the unique driving solar boat or canoe safari. The attractive river landscape of the river Sava, can be explored on the tourist boats.
The Nature Park is located close to the highway Zagreb – Osijek, where at the exit Popovača, it continues along the road on the right through Potok and Stružec towards Sisak and Lonja, along the left bank of Sava through Preloščica, Lukavec and Gušće to Čigoč. The distance from Zagreb is 110 km. The Park can be reached by the public bus transportation from Sisak and Čigoč, and via Novska and Jasenovac it can be reached by train as well.