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The Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park is located in the area of Ljubljansko barje, in Central Slovenia, in the southernmost part of the Ljubljana Basin. The Park stretches from a natural passage, called the Ljubljana gate, between the hills of Golovec, Grad and Šišenski hrib in the north and north-east, to the Polhov Gradec hills in the north-west and west. In the south it borders on the Krim range and Menišija, and in the south-west it is flanked by the Dolenjsko podolje region.

Protected area total


13,505 ha or 135 km2

Main characteristics


The Park covers Slovenia's largest complex of wet grasslands with hedges and forests, shrubs and watercourses. The area is well-known for its rich biodiversity, which is the result of specific cultivation practices (extensively-mowed meadows). Most of the protected, classified animal and plant species and habitat types are vitally dependent on the preservation of the wetland character of the Ljubljansko barje ecosystem and on the maintenance of extensively-managed meadows (rational fertilisation, late mowing).

Number of inhabitants in the Park



Land use


Over two thirds of the surface area is agricultural land, most of it taken up by meadows (46%), and fields and gardens (31%). Urban areas account for approximately 5% of the Park, and forests cover 9% of the area.



Most of the land (83%) is privately-owned.



The Park was founded with the Decree on the Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park (Official Gazette of RS, No. 12/08), and its managing body, Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park Public Institute, was established by a decision of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (Official Gazette of RS, No. 55/2009).

Protection status


Extended protected area – Protected Landscape (IUCN Category V), two Ecologically Important Areas, a Natura 2000 site. It is a Special Protection Area (SPA) for 25 bird species according to the EU Birds Directive. This exceptional area of nature contains a large number of valuable natural features (59), natural monuments (9), nature reserves (6), numerous endangered wildlife plant (1) and animal (27) species with an international protection status, their habitats and habitat types (7), as well as many cultural values and a unique mosaic landscape, the product of long-term interaction between man and nature.

Protection zones in the Park


The primary purpose of the first protection zone (44.5km² or 33% of the total area) is to protect and conserve valuable natural features, to preserve the favourable status of plant and animal species and their habitats, and to safeguard adapted agricultural practices.

The second protection zone (26.3km² or 19% of the total area) is important for nature conservation and intended to protect valuable natural features, biodiversity and landscape diversity, as well as sustainable forms of both agriculture and the use of other natural resources in a way that minimises environmental impact.

The primary purpose of the third protection zone (64.2km² or 48% of the total area) is to conserve landscape diversity and promote sustainable development.

International status


The Park contains two groups of prehistoric pile dwellings, which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Managing body


Ljubljana Marsh Nature Park Public Institute

(Javni zavod Krajinski park Ljubljansko barje)



Podpeška cesta 380, SI- 1357 Notranje Gorice



00386 (0) 8 205 23 50




Ljubljansko Barje, this almost 160 square kilometres large plain, originated some two million years ago through the sinking of an extensive area of the Ljubljana basin. Consequently, the local rivers deposited huge amounts of shingle and sediments there, virtually damming the Ljubljanica river where it joined the Sava and inundating the entire Barje basin at the same time. Some 6,000 years ago, the Barje lake dried up, leaving a marshy plain in its place. In its greater part, layers of peat were formed, in places even up to 9 metres thick.

Although this boggy area was in no way an ideal environment for people to settle there, numerous archaeological finds speak of the fact that the area of Ljubljansko Barje had been inhabited from the very Copper Age onwards. This was the time of the prominent pile dwellings as well as of highly developed, technologically advanced and with wider European environment linked cultures, whose pottery and copper artefacts still astonish the lovers of everything beautiful.

The regular floods at Ljubljansko Barje are the reason for centuries long attempts to drain the area. The first that tried  to curb and reclaim the Barje were the Romans, who built the first road across it and regulated the course of the Ljubljanica river in order to transport the Podpeč marble along it for the needs of building the city of Emona (the present-day Ljubljana). The attempts to drain the land became more intensive in the 16th century, when first channels and canals were built. The most notable, although not particularly successful, was the work of Gabriel Gruber at the end of the 18th century. The persistent attempt to drain the land, deepening the beds and channels, pulling down the dams on the Ljubljanica river and building new drainage channels brought first success in the first half of the 19th century, when the water level subsided enough to proceed with the planned colonisation and tilling of the Barje plain. But the fact was that it was the digging and sale of peat that was bringing more money than agriculture! The exploitation of peat caused the ground to subside and this in turn brought new floods. The struggle to drain the Barje continued until the mid-twentieth century, when the idea of creating "the granary of Europe" finally died down even in the most stubborn heads.

It is almost a miracle that in spite of all the above-mentioned attempts, nature managed to remain exceptionally diverse till this very day. The cohabitation of people and nature created a unique and highly diverse cultural landscape, an endless mosaic of meadows, litter woodlands, fields, ditches and hedges. This interlacement of different habitats is home to many plants, birds and insects that can rarely be still seen elsewhere in Slovenia in Europe. Although the Barje plain covers only 1 % of Slovenia's territory, it is the breeding site of about a half, i.e. more than 100, of all Slovene bird species. Grassland birds, such as Corn Crake, Whinchat, Eurasian Curlew, Stonechat and Common Quail, still persist at their grassland nest-sites, but the fight against huge agricultural machinery has unfortunately already been lost by the Hoopoe, Common Snipe, Lesser Kestrel, Lesser Grey Shrike, Short-eared Owl and Montagu's Harrier.

Along water surfaces and in the extensively farmed and relatively late in the year mown meadows we can see some rare butterflies and gaily coloured dragonflies. This boggy environment is a good shelter for amphibians and the very rare European Pond Terrapin.

At Ljubljansko Barje, nature could have followed the changes caused by man and his activities for thousands of years, but now it looks that this cohabitation is gradually coming to an end. The fact is that human encroachment upon this wetland is becoming increasingly aggressive and that the need to expand agricultural production as well as to build business - residential - industrial - commercial complexes is already beyond control.

Ljubljansko Barje is the largest Slovene and southernmost European wetland. Similar areas are a true rarity in Europe today, due mainly to the intensive farming and urbanisation. About 70 % of the European wetlands are all history now. In the 1990s, the European Union adopted, for many too late but still, the legislation with which it attempted to protect rare and endangered animal and plant species and their habitats. Ljubljansko Barje, home to numerous endangered species, has been proclaimed a Natura 2000 site.