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Karst Beauty

Cijevna River Canyon

Length of the canyon section: 12 km
Altitude: 55-1,397 m
Conservation status: Unprotected area at local and national level, Emerald site under the Bern convention
Coordinates: 42°23’54.90″N; 19°24’56.36″E


Cijevna River springs in the Albanian part of the Mountain Prokletije. Length of the water course is 58,8 km, 32,3 km of which belonging to Montenegro. Length of the Montenegrin part of the canyon is 12 km. The longitudinal profile of the river has a drop of 1,350 m. Cijevna River is the most southern tributary of the Morača River and connects three important IBAs of Montenegro: Mountain Prokletije, Ćemovsko Field and Skadar Lake. The complex geomorphology with rock cuttings in some places over 1,000 m altitude, narrow canyon in the upper reaches and the valley at the exit of the canyon, the clean waters of the river, are the main IBA geo-characteristics. The canyon is located about ten kilometers from Podgorica.


Cijevna River Canyon was until recently the only habitat of the vultures, white buzzards, Neophron percnopterus, in Montenegro. During summer months, it is a significant breeding place for the Short-toed snake eagle, Circaetus gallicu; Levant sparrowhawk, Accipiter brevipes; falcons and partridges, Alectoris graeca; Eurasian scoops owl, Otus scops; European nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus; Eurasian hoopoe, Upupa epops; crested lark, Galerida cristata; Black-eared wheatear, Oenante hispanica; Western rock nuthatch, Sitta neumayer and others.


The Canyon has 813 species of plants registered so far, accounting for a quarter of the total flora of the country. Of this number, about 300 plants are honey-rich plants and more than 60 are endemic species belonging to southeast Dinarides and the Balkan Peninsula. Mediterranean maquis and karst are habitats of several species of reptiles. Canyon cliffs are one of the most important habitats for raptors, and the breeding area for several species of swallows.


For the Cijevna River Canyon it could be said it remained preserved. It was part of “the iron curtain” during the Cold War and as a border area it was heavily guarded. Cijevna enters the system of the “Green Belt Europe” because of some still virgin habitats, especially in the upper reaches of the river. Although extraordinarily important for biodiversity and the city of Podgorica, the Canyon was in some documents referred to as a reservoir that would absolutely destroyed its values.


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