In the area around Novi Kneževac, along the two sides of road 111 leading to Banatsko Aranđelovo, on a 530 hectare space (263 hectare under water), there used to be a fishpond.
Last year the property owner, Matijević meat industry, drained and dried it out, while recently, it was also put on fire. In the last days of December, layers of reed, sometimes amounting to 50 meters, burned for days without pause. The firefighters came quickly to the scene, but there was little they could do to succumb the sky-high flames. The fire destroyed large proportions of reed, which served as valuable material for insulation in the construction industry. This is the worst thing which could have happened: nor nature, nor humanity sees use in burnt reed.
Since the fishpond got drained, animals living in water, amphibians, reptiles, died by the thousands, while birds nesting in reed, herons, wild ducks, coots, etc. were stripped from their natural habitat.
The owner of the fishpond, the Matijević meat industry, not only damaged the ecosystem of Novi Kneževac, but gave a huge blow to its economy as well. With the cancellation of fish breeding, a lot of people were left without jobs.
For the damage done by the complete drainage and drying of the fishpond, judicial proceedings are being held as we speak in Kikinda. The fishpond was destroyed in the middle of the breeding season of endangered birds, while it was possible to wait a couple of more weeks until the end of it, and then get rid of the reed when no animal was using it any more. Coast willows quickly spread their roots in the bed of the fishpond, which is rich in minerals and organic material, their sprouts now cover the entire place.
The point of this arson was most probably the incineration of the maze made by the coast willows, but the flames could not get a grip on the raw and leafless twigs. The sprouts will grow into a strong and chaotic bush in no time, which will be almost impossible to remove, even if water would be let back into the fishpond.
The things which happened in this area in the past year are a direct proof of the incapability of the owner to do something useful with the land, most probably planned for agriculture, but the Provincial Institute for Nature Conservation did not give a green light for such conversion. It’s a shame, as the fishpond greatly boosted the wildlife around the banks of the river Tisza, and had a positive effect on our area’s microclimate, turning warmer and warmer with each passing day.