WWF is running a regional project in the Western Balkans that aims at bringing together people across the borders.
The Dinaric Arc project involves eight countries – Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. The project promotes cooperation between protected areas from different countries, as experience shows that nature conservation is a subject that can easily bring people together.
The Balkan Peninsula has Europe’s most intact nature. Here you find rugged mountains with rivers running over and underground, sun soaked coasts and lush forests. The regions nature is beautiful – with a unique and precious biodiversity.
During the mid-term review trip this July, I asked several people the same question:
What do you think was the most important result of this project so far?
Goran Matic, Conservation Director of Frushka Gora National Park, Serbia:
– Networking and exchanging experience are the most important aspects of the Dinaric Arc project. Also, the practical exchange visits gave a lot to protected areas professionals, Goran Matic said.
Ognen Dostinoski, Galicica National Park, national project coordinator in Macedonia and Goce Anastasoski, Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia:
– Linking parks from across the Western Balkans seemed like mission impossible, but we managed. I’m proud to be in this group of protected areas. When you do not know people, you think they are bad. But when you meet them and get to know them, you see that they are the same people as you. This brings people together, Ognen Dostinoski said.
– We can use other parks as our “mirror” – you look at things as they are when you look at your neighbours. One realizes that your own protected area is not so different from the others. This networking helps to find solutions when necessary, and ask for advice so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It is also possible to re-build relationship between people from different countries using nature protection as a platform, said Goce Anastasoski.
Qenan Maxhuni, national project coordinator, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Kosovo:
-Through nature protection one can overcome bad things that happened in the past. The project gives an opportunity to meet people from other countries and discuss problems common for protected areas, Qenan Maxhuni said.
I was happy to learn that there is a general opinion of success and that the project has been instrumental in bringing people together. And since the project is only half way through, the chances are good that the cooperation will be further developed and strengthened so that it can continue beyond the project.
Here you can read more about the Dinaric Arc regional project (NB: only in Norwegian):