One of the reasons why part of the Kornati archipelago has been protected as a national park is the anthropogenic landscape – karst pastures – created by human activity (regular burning).

Inhabitants of Murter and Betina came to Kornati in the 1630s. The former owners of the pastures, the Zadar nobility, sought reliable shepherds to take care of their flocks. On the other hand, people from Murter and Betina, who lived in the overcrowded island of Murter, were looking for a place to live off their main island. They took advantage of the situation and went to Kornati to keep sheep. During the second half of the 19th century, they bought the land and become the masters of Kornati.

Until the end of the 19th century, the pastures covered most of Kornati and at that time livestock farming (sheep and goats) was the main activity. The karst pastures were regularly burned in order to provide food for the animals. In the 1830s, only about 0.81% of the area had crops, mainly vines (and to a lesser extent, olives). Vines were grown within the Kornati fields which were surrounded by olive groves. More intensive clearing and planting of vines in Kornati coincided with the purchase of Kornati and the appearance of vine diseases (phylloxera) in France, the leading wine producer in Europe until then. In the last twenty years of the 19th century, the number of cultivated areas increased by 40%. During that golden age, people from Murter, the owners of most of Kornati, got involved in the financial economy of the European market. The arrival of phylloxera to the Kornati islands lead to the destruction of the Kornati vineyards, so they focused more intensely on olive growing (with the encouragement of the Austrian administration and the opening of the market). New Kornati pastures were cleared solely for the purpose of planting olives. An additional incentive to clearing pastures was a very favourable oil market and relatively little attention required by olives. At the beginning of the 20th century, first beekeepers came to Kornati. Due to the specificity of the Kornati vegetation, they produced top quality Kornati honey.


Today there are no more vines in Kornati, but about 18,000 olive trees are estimated in the area of the Kornati National Park. The percentage of arable land is the same as before, but it is largely neglected. Olive groves cover 5.17% of the total area of the national park. The rest of the area is covered mainly by karst pastures whose communities (Festuco-Koelerietum splendentis H-ić. 1975 and Stipo-Salvietum officinalis H-ić. (1956) 1958) are now Natura 2000 habitats that "support" sheep farming. In recent years, owners are slowly giving up on livestock and turning to easier tourist activities. According to available data, there are now about 2000 sheep in the park area.

Preservation of sheep farming on Kornati enables the preservation of valuable karst pastures and this is one of the measures through which we want to encourage people from Kornati to preserve this important traditional activity.

Meld of nature and humans

 A notable ornament of the Kornati National Park is also the incredible meld of nature and humans – who have been living on the Kornati for several thousand years – which can be seen in the always humble but impressive structures: ports, stanovi, dry stone walls, olive orchards, docks, forts, churches, saltworks, gradine, and so on.
Comparatively great distance from the mainland, the biological wealth of the sea, corsair attacks, good pastures, restless mainland, meagre karst soil, good haven from storms on the sea... All of these are reasons why the Kornati throughout the history were both hospitable and inhospitable territory. Always on the edge between inhabitancy and desertion, peace and turmoil, riches and poverty, the Kornati have always been and still are a challenge for various cultures and interests in this area.