Wetland Habitats in the Carpathians

 peatland Slan Voda

The different types of wetlands represent some of the most precious ecosystems of the Carpathians. Wetland habitats are important because of their typical site biodiversity, which depends on a functioning hydrological regime. While not generally species-rich, these habitats support characteristic species and communities (many of which are classified as threatened), adapted to the particular site conditions. The ecosystems services provided by Carpathian wetlands can be summarised as follows, according to the classification of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Provisioning services
The waters from the Carpathians flow into the Black and Baltic Seas via the four large catchments of the Danube, Dniester, Vistula and Oder rivers. Accordingly, the main product of mountain wetlands is a supply of abundant, clean water for people, agriculture, industry and nature. Carpathian wetlands also provide a range of specific physical products: gravel from riverbeds, peat, reeds and hay from wet grasslands. Rivers in the Carpathians are increasingly being dammed to produce energy in hydropower plants, a practice that is causing controversy in several countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine). In many areas also, micro-hydropower plants are being established, which do not involve dam construction, but which have significant effects on river channels and on water flows.

Regulating services
Carpathian wetlands are crucial in maintaining the water cycle which underpins all ecosystem services and therefore sustainable development. The water cycle is also influenced by nutrient cycling (which influences water quality) and carbon cycling (which influences land cover and organic carbon in soils, including high carbon ecosystems such as peatlands, which also influence water flows). Wetlands provide vital water-related ecosystem services at different scales and they are also very important in flood prevention and mitigation of extreme weather events. (Russi et al. 2013)

Cultural services
Wetlands play an important role in local culture and folk traditions across the Carpathians. They have been an inspiration for numerous traditions, folk songs, and a wide variety of local events. The recreational and touristic value of wetlands is quite high; mainly lakes, reservoirs, rivers and caves attract very large numbers of tourists. Other wetland types are less visited but there is a growing trend to provide touristic facilities on less visited habitats like peatlands and to promote their biodiversity to the wider public.

Text prepared by State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic


Šeffer, J., Šefferova Stanová, V., Lasák, R., Prots, B., Gurean, D., Koptik, J., Mróz, W., Staszynska, K., Lazarevic, P. and Szigetvári, C. (2014). Carpathian Wetland Handbook. State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, DAPHNE - Institute of Applied Ecology, Banská Bystrica,  59 pp.

Dobromil Galvánek & Ján Kadlečík (2014). Wetlands in the Carpathians. In Appleton, M.R. & Meyer, H. Editors. Development of Common Integrated Management Measures for Key Natural Assets in the Carpathians, pps. 72-103.

Russi, D., ten Brink, P., Farmer, A., Badura, T., Coates, D., Förster, J., Kumar, R. & Davidson, N.(2013). The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Water and Wetlands. IEEP, London and Brussels; Ramsar Secretariat, Gland.

 Last updated: October 2014



The development of this website is financially supported by ETC Programme South East Europe
within the BioREGIO Carpathians project (January 2012 – June 2014) and the MAVA Foundation
within the Protected Areas for a Living Planet Project (January 2007 – March 2012).