At the end of September 2011 a three-day training workshop introduced the IUCN protected area management categories and governance types to conservation experts from five Dinaric Arc countries having the responsibility of decision making on protected areas designation and management.
The workshop’s main objective was to improve understanding on IUCN protected area definition, the differences between the six IUCN PA categories as well as the importance on assigning IUCN PA categories for the global protected areas network. The steps of assigning PA categories were exercised by participants indoor but also during a field session demonstrating examples from the area of Velebit mountain.
“The role of protected areas is continuing to evolve” says Nigel Dudley, IUCN WCPA expert. “While in the beginning they were mainly chosen because of their aesthetic and recreational values, in the course of time their importance for wildlife, biodiversity and later for ecosystems services they provide has been increasingly recognized".
When thinking about the objectives of a protected area we need to keep in mind four elements: socio-economic and political context; natural values; other values such as cultural and economic, as well as threats to the area. In some cases the management objective would be quite straightforward - the areas don’t need management and should be left on their own, while in others the difficult process of identifying and negotiating the crossing points between use and preservation needs to take place between different stakeholders.
“This training has clearly showed a need for more coherent planning of protected areas across the region. The Dinaric Arc is regarded as one of biodiversity hotspots in Europe and only properly designed protected areas may secure effective management and conservation of nature in this exceptional eco-region“ says Boris Erg, Director of IUCN Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe.
The governance of the PAs in Western Balkans is mainly centralized in the governmental institutions while community managed and private protected areas are rather an exception. Although the general trend is towards increasing the total protected area, there are places where the opposite process appears to be the case due to prevailing non-conservation interests. The region of Dinaric Arc still holds the rare opportunity of designating new protected areas, even big ones such as national parks– a chance most of the other European countries have used up by now one way or another.
The workshop opened with welcoming remarks from Milan Nekic, Director of NP Sjeverni Velebit and Davorin Markovic, Director of the State Institute for Nature Protection in Croatia – the two organizations generously supporting the event with bright ideas, professional advice, logistics and traditional local sound.
The training was organized within Environment for People in the Dinaric Arc project financially supported by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and held by IUCN WCPA experts Nigel Dudley and Sue Stolton.
For further information please contact Veronika Ferdinandova, IUCN SEE.