A five-day field trip to three regions in Serbia, with representatives of different institutions form the sector of nature conservation, as well as from other sectors that are relevant for nature conservation and preparation of Natura 2000 network, was organized within Twinning project in Serbia
Within the Twinning project “Strengthening Administrative Capacities for Protected Areas in Serbia (NATURA 2000)”, that is happening in Serbia at the same time as IPA project “Partnership Actions for biodiversity Protection in Western Balkan”, the filed trip through Serbia was organized in May 2011. The trip included visits to three protected areas – Nature park Stara Planina, Special nature reserve Uvac and Special nature reserve Gornje Podunavlje. Its objective was that attendees learn together about the current situation in protected areas in Serbia, about specific challenges and opportunities, conflicts and ways of cooperation, from protected area managers, local stakeholders and different interest groups.
The participants of the field trip visited various types of protected areas and met on the field people who live and work in these regions to get an impression about current open questions, experiences and challenges regarding each protected area. General impression was that people are starting to realize that they can live in and beside protected areas, and not to be against it. That was clearly shown in the rural areas where several farmers started interesting local initiatives in production, education or direct cooperation with the managers of the protected area by supporting the feeding places for birds. Experts from all sectors stressed out that the value of many habitats directly depends on activities of people which should be directly supported by projects in future.
Clear visions and objectives are a precondition for all management activities regarding Natura 2000. They should be prepared as soon as possible. It was also clearly shown that opinion leaders and other very active people of the region, which introduced and guided the participants, have a key role for the success of regional development. Programs, projects and strategies should take that into account - by establishing network of these people and directly supporting them.