Primeval forest Perućica


Primeval forest Perućica

Strict Nature Reserve

When it comes to jungles, what comes to your mind first? The Amazon? Sri Lanka? Uganda? What about Europe? Do you know at least one in Europe? If the answer is no, you are on the right web page to discover what might be the best kept tourist secret in Europe – primeval forest Perućica, located in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Primeval forest Perućica is one of the two remaining primeval forests in Europe and it extends over an area of 1434 ha. It is part of National Park ‘Sutjeska,’ the oldest and the biggest one in Europe and it is rightly named ‘the lungs of Europe.’ It has many trees which are more than 300 years old and over 50 meters tall. It is believed that the primeval forest is about 20,000 years old (it existed before The Ice Age). The scientific and educational values of ancient Perućica have been known since 1952 and it has been on the UNESCO tentative list since 2017. Strict Nature Reserve which has been protected for decades is undoubtedly the most precious jewel, never fully explored, the largest natural treasure of this kind in Europe, a real challenge for all botanists but at the same time inaccessible to the common man. One of the main missions of National Park ‘Sutjeska’ is to protect and preserve Perućica in its original state. Did you know that nine species of a woodpecker (family Picidae) live in the Park, mainly in strict nature reserve Perućica, which represents 90% of family Picidae in Europe? A large number of these birds shows how much this forest area and the ecological diversity of the park suit them. Woodpeckers depend on the old, diseased and dead trees as their food source and they are also very important in building their nests.

In the primeval forest, everything is left to nature and its laws. Birth, life, death, and rebirth - the everlasting cycle of life occurs without human intervention and disruption of the course of nature. New life flourishes on the remains of trees that die naturally.

In Perućica, as well as in the rest of the Park, you can see richness and diversity of flora and a number of endemic and rare species. The fact that more than 170 species of trees and shrubs and over 1000 species of herbaceous plants have been registered there proves that Perućica is rich in flora. Some parts of the primeval forest are almost inaccessible. You will pass by trees which are over 50 meters tall and with the largest wood volume up to more than 1000 cubic meters per hectare. In this forest there is the tallest measured spruce (63 meters tall). It has rich diversity of fauna, with a large number of invertebrates, especially butterflies, but also amphibians, reptiles and fish, 36 species and 18 families of mammals, and many species of birds. Rare and endangered game species are: wild cat, lynx, and blind mole rat. Important mammals are bears, roe deer, wild boars, wolves, foxes, and badgers.

Walking through primeval forest Perućica is only allowed in the company of a National Park ‘Sutjeska’ guide.

Even though walking through primeval forest Perućica is only allowed in the company of a National Park ‘Sutjeska’ guide and after buying a ticket at the Information Center of National Park ‘Sutjeska’ or at the toll booth 5 kilometers from Tjentište, it is possible to visit the lookout points Beškita and Dragoš Sedlo on foot or by car. The view of Perućica and Skakavac waterfall which crashes down from a height of more than 70 m in the heart of the forest, makes a man pleased to be a small part of iconic nature, with such richness and diversity of wildlife, preserved intact for present and future generations. What you can see in front of you is somewhat intimidating beauty of the deep, forested valley, almost completely inaccessible. On the other side of the valley, the rocky cliffs of Volujak rise, and the highest peak of Bosnia and Herzegovina – Maglić, rises in the distance above the canyon of the river Sutjeska. The view is truly magnificent!

Nowadays, Perućica represents a rare natural laboratory of great importance for education and many scientific disciplines, as well as for simple enjoyment of anyone who wants to experience the beauty and charm of clean and untouched nature.

How was primeval forest Perućica found? Back in 1938, forest taxators, while working on a study on mountain Maglić, found beautiful stands of beech, fir and spruce in the basin of the river Perućica, in the valley between Maglić, Volujak and Sniježnica. Their wood volume exceeded 1,000 cubic meters per hectare, and the height of some trees exceeded 50 meters. This was the reason for the Government of SR of BiH to separate Perućica with an area of 1234 ha from ‘the regular forest management and allocate it as the forest area needed for scientific research and education’ in 1952. In 1954 the area, enlarged by another 200 ha, was placed under the state protection as a nature reserve.