An initiative to make Croatia’s amazing Blue and Red Lakes and the area surrounding them a protected UNESCO geopark has been launched.
Located in the small town of Imotski in the Dalmatian Hinterland on the northern side of Biokovo, the Blue and Red Lakes have become a leading attraction.
The Red Lake is a sinkhole containing a karst lake and is known for its numerous caves and remarkably high cliffs, reaching over 241 metres above normal water level and continuing below the water level.
The total explored depth of this sinkhole is approximately 530 metres making it the third largest sinkhole in the world. Water drains out of the basin through underground waterways that descend below the level of the lake floor.
The sinkhole is named after the reddish-brown color of the surrounding cliffs, colored by iron oxides.
Because of its surroundings and the depth of the sinkhole, it is very difficult to throw a stone in the Red Lake, so locals have a legend that says if you can throw a stone in the Red Lake you will soon get married.
Like the nearby Red Lake, the Blue Lake lies in a deep sinkhole possibly formed by the collapse of an enormous underground cave.
The total depth from the upper rim is around 220 meters, while water depth varies with season. In spring, when the snow from surrounding mountains melts, it can reach 90 m, and in 1914 it reached 114 m, overflowing the southern rim. The lake is a popular destination for hiking and sight-seeing.
In 1907 a road was built descending to the lake. In 1942, an earthquake caused a large landfall resulting in the reduction of the lake’s depth.
The plan is to have the area UNESCO protected by 2020 with preparations to build a centre for visitors and researchers already in place.
“The plan is to send the letter of intent by 1 June, and by 30 November all the documentation. Then in 2019 will follow the required inspection, and preparations to implement and if all goes to plan then in June 2020 it will get UNESCO Geo Park status,” Imotski Tourist Board Director Luka Kolovrat said.
Croatia already has one UNESCO Geo Park – Papuk Geopark, located in eastern Croatia, which was the first UNESCO Geo Park in Croatia and gained its status due to the extraordinary geological and biological diversity and valuable cultural heritage of the Papuk and Krndija mountains.
An application for the ‘Vis Archipelago’ to become a protected UNESCO Geo Park has been made with UNESCO by the Croatian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy.
Today there are 120 world Geo Parks in 33 countries.