Story | 29 Apr, 2021

First steps towards the Shar Mountains Management Plan

The public consultations for the future Shar Mountains National Park Management Plan officially started today, at a virtual event hosted by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia. With the support of IUCN and UNEP, the participatory process will call for the involvement of national and international experts, the civil sector and the local community.

“Together, we will pave the way towards a more resilient future, and safeguard the outstanding natural beauty of the Shar Mountains for generations to come,” said Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia. “I am proud to announce that we are starting the process towards a draft Management Plan for the Shar Mountains National Park, in cooperation with IUCN and UNEP. It will ensure the protection of biodiversity in the park, while improving the well-being of the local community, creating green jobs and allowing for green infrastructure development,” concluded Minister Nuredini in his welcoming address.

Once designated, Shar Mountains will increase the national protected area coverage to 13,2%. The defined zones of the future park are important both for nature protection and for ensuring sustainable development, including eco-tourism, which will bring prosperity to both nature and people.

“We very much look forward to the designation of Shar Mountains as a National Park in North Macedonia,” said Boris Erg, Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. "It has been almost 15 years since our initial conversations around IUCN’s support to the process took place, and we have implemented many activities to reach this moment." Mr Erg emphasized the regional importance of the protection of this mountain massif, stressing that in addition to the exceptional natural values, Shar Mountains host rich cultural values that also need to be protected.

“We are happy and grateful that the proclamation process is already in the last phase. But the identified natural and socio-economic values ​​will not mean much if we don’t ensure their sustainable management,” stressed Iskra Stojanova, Project coordinator, UN Environment Programme. “Therefore, in the following period and with support from IUCN, we will develop a draft Management Plan for the future National Park. We call for the involvement of the public, and all stakeholders, to ensure that nature protection goes hand in hand with socio-economic development,” she concluded.

After the introductory speeches, Daniel Bogner, an expert who will lead the process, presented the goals, activities and methodology for drafting the Shar Mountains National Park Management Plan. He announced consultation meetings with five identified groups of stakeholders that are scheduled to take place in May.