14. 12. 2011.

We are satisfied! Hopefully biodiversity is too…

If the voice of NGOs was heard, biodiversity wouldn’t have to worry J! Joking aside, with the project “PartnershipActions for Biodiversity Protection in Western Balkans” we achieved a lot.

Participants of the final workshop in Belgrade, October 2011 (c) Petra Boic Petrac
Organizations, already part of a network before the project “Partnership Actions…”, agreed on further steps regarding taking care of nature, especially when it comes to Natura 2000. They  achieved very good results through local actions which helped the broader public understand what Natura 2000 is and why biodiversity is important to us. The result of those actions was the exhibition “15 Ways How to Conserve Nature”. It was shown at the end of October in Student Cultural Center in Belgrade. That was the last time when all representatives that worked on local actions met: they presented their projects and results, exchanged some ideas, agreed on further cooperation; they praised each other and occasionally asked “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Workshop (c) Petra Boic Petrac
Before the exhibition there was a one-day workshop during which participants, representatives of civil sector from Serbia and from Montenegro described and illustrated how they saw their networks: “Natura 2000 Resource Center” of Serbia and Montenegrin “Natura 2000 Info Center”. Upon hearing results of all 17 projects, participants voted for their favourite project: the some number of votes got NGO Avalon (organization of Natura Day), DMEN – Association of young ecologists from Niksic (photo wallpaper on buses depicting natural values of the future Natura 2000 sites) and Breznica (initiative to declare forest Savina in Herceg Novi as protected area). After that, NGO representatives were trained how to  best present results of their project to the public. That was just what they had a chance to the very next day on the opening of the exhibition. 
Exhibition "15 Ways How to Conserve Nature" (c) YRS
Accompanied by the project team (Young Researchers of Serbia, WWF and Green Home), representatives of civil sector in Serbia (Avalon, Mladen Karaman, Akademsko društvo za proučavanje i zaštitu prirode, Eko-centar, Stara planina, Protego, Prostor, UNEKOOP) and Montenegro (Breznica, OZON, Centar za zaštitu i proučavanje ptica Crne Gore, Green.me, Društvo mladih ekologa Nikšić), PhD Ivica Radovic, State Secretary of Ministry of environment, Mining and Spatial Planning in Serbia delivered a speech at the opening of the exhibition. He promised good cooperation with NGOs and listening to their voice while creating Natura 2000 proposal in Serbia. With inspirational speech, State Secretary pointed out the importance of Natura 2000; he thanked the NGOs for everything they do and promised to ensure the leaders of state institutions to watch  the movie "Natura 2000 in Serbia", result of local action given to NGO CINA. The documentary speaks about the importance of Natura 2000.

If someone had said to the project team of “Partnership Actions…” in January 2010, when the implementation of the project started, that their last meeting with NGO representatives would end with praise, smiles and common hope for a new partnership, many would immediately sign the very idea of overtime, sometimes even night work, stress and occasional disagreements. Indeed, the meeting in Belgrade in late October was a helpful and nice gathering of people who did something useful and good for nature conservation. Despite the project completion, the guiding principle of biodiversity conservation in the Western Balkans will undoubtedly continue. So let this blog, which was created as part of the IPA project, continue despite the fact that the project is successfully completed. Therefore we invite all who have anything to share on Natura 2000: examples of good practice, lessons learned, some knowledge, governmental false steps ... contact us, write a post. Together we are stronger! Isn’t that the entire point of the partnership after all? Not to say that biodiversity will be grateful to us.   
Petra Boic Petrac, WWF

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