Area: 150 km²
Location: Lastovo Archipelago/Croatian Archipelago
Number of inhabitants:
Yearly : 792
Sesonally : 2400
Number of visitors:
Protected island: Yes
Land protection status: Nature Park
Maritime protection status: Nature Park
Lastovo is located 100.42 km and 90.58 km from the Italian and Croatian coasts, respectively, which has made the island a long-standing site of geo-strategic importance in the Adriatic Sea. The island was settled and occupied by many regimes from both coasts, the effects of which show in nearly every manifestation of daily life, from planning to even the language.
Most unique of Lastovo features is its interior oriented planning, which differs from all other islands in the Adriatic where the largest, most developed, and oldest developments are typically oriented towards the sea. While there are legends as to the reason why, by the 12th century islanders moved to the interior of the island, where they settled on one of the higher island peaks and sprawled downward into the main valley and low-lying areas of the island. As such, economic activity and traditional subsistence-based living revolved around service and land-based systems before the development of sea-based operations.
Current day economic activities are focused in traditional island sectors of agriculture, fishing, and, most prominently, tourism. However, like most Croatian islands, tourism is highly seasonal. During off-season months, the island is active within the public sector and a small scattering of private businesses, mostly utilized by the small island population. Tourism is ironically most productive in its marine-based activities such as sailing, yacht, diving, and other nautical activities, fishing, and tourism package activities that showcase the archipelago as a whole. Camping and other land-based activities are present on the island, though nowhere near the extent of its nautical sector.
As a remote island with a small insular community that had little un-deliberate contact from the outside, historically, the use of resources on the island has largely been subsistence-based, while translates into today as a lush, green environment with incredibly rich biodiversity on both lands and in the sea. However, the advent of mass tourism has resulted in a shift in priorities and perspectives on the preservation of the natural environment, as building and development, specifically around the coast, has risen. The effect of tourism is more sudden and, thus, potentially more disruptive on LA than in other Adriatic islands, an effect likely caused by LA history as a military site for various regimes, which retarded a steady growth process. All Croatian islands are grappling with tourism demand. However, an island under the description of LA, of which there are only a few in the Adriatic, has an additional hurdle as it is contending with the same demand and none of the structure that is only possible with sustained response and reaction to the gradual growth of tourism visitors. Despite the uptick in development and response to tourism, the island is still highly biodiverse and will require guidance in prudent spatial and conservation planning practices to ensure that this description remains.
Land and marine biodiversity on the island are exceptionally rich. The physiography is comprised of forested hills, small, meandering valleys with high-quality soil, and karstic sites typical of most Dalmatian islands. The forested areas are dense with a mixture of Aleppo pine and Oak tree, a coverage that accounts for 70% of all land cover. Forested areas are equally split in public and community ownership. The island contains any unique flora and fauna and operates as a node on the African migration route for birds. The waters are bathymetrically dynamic throughout LA, with warm, shallow and cool, deep waters along the coasts, and incredibly deep, cold water sites throughout the territorial water of the archipelago, providing inhabitable sites for a vast variety of marine species. To date, LA biodiversity boasts 800 plant species, 180 vertebrates, 248 underwater flora, 330 underwater invertebrates, and 150 fish species.
Human activity on the island is geared towards agriculture, fishing, nautical activities, and tourism. Land-based activity is largely subsistence-based as the island is remote, the plots are small, and land-knowledgeable workers are decreasing, which provides the islanders with few purchasers of their product and a small product to sell and trade by unit. Many homes are using their land in combination with culture and history to sell tourism packages that feature the land. There is some production and sale of olive oils and essential oils, though low in frequency and volume. Fishing is the main sector of activity outside of tourism, as the waters are abundant with fish and other marine stock. There are discrepancies with neighbouring islands about territorial waters, thus affecting yields, and concerns with sufficient infrastructure and storage for fisherman to optimize their yields. Tourism is quickly growing. Nautical tourism is the most active sector with growing numbers of yachts visiting the islands, excursions by sea, and diving. Land-based visits are also growing and follow a consistent trend of high nights, meaning visitors are staying longer. The remote nature of the island creates this dynamic, and it could be utilized as an asset in controlling visitor experience, and thus guiding anthropogenic impact.