Mreznica Valley, Croatia by Chip Carroon

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Picture Story

Deciduous forests in mid-latitudes often engulf the rivers in their domain. Such is the case with the Mreznica River in Croatia. The forest surrounding this low-gradient river near Zagreb ends up grabbing every available space including a little in the middle of the riverbed. The river canyon in this area is difficult to access owing to the dense vegetation. As with several other rivers in the Balkans, I found that I had to approach from the air in order to get any reasonable shot. Bushwhacking through the near-jungle surrounding the river would have been very difficult and the resulting picture probably would not have been very good.

My technique had to be one in which I drove small roads near the river as I tried to get close to see what was happening in the canyon bottom. Even getting somewhat close on any road was time consuming and difficult, and I had a choice of very few locations. However, I had to depict the river valley as attractively as possible.

My job on this occasion was documenting river systems in Balkan countries for a Nature Conservancy/ World Wildlife Fund project aimed at convincing governmental authorities to permanently protect some attractive rivers from careless, short-sighted development ideas. Not everyone has an enlightened view of the long-term economic potential of a region, so I was motivated to tell the story. The bottom line was that by the end of the summer we had imagery and arguments that were good enough to encourage two countries to offer permanent protections for two different river systems.

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