Good Management of Protected Areas Leads to Better Nature Conservation

Photo: courtesy of Nataša Panić

The Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, which deals with the protection and improvement of natural heritage, currently has 472 protected areas in Serbia under its jurisdiction, spanning 762,960 hectares or 8.62 per cent of the territory of our country. Various institutions and organizations can manage protected areas in Serbia, including public and communal municipal companies, cultural centers, tourist and non-governmental organizations, civil sector associations, church dioceses, and individuals in the case of protected trees. The same goes for the quality of management at different levels regarding implementing measures and ensuring the required finances and logistics, as well as personnel and management priorities related to preserving, monitoring, and protecting biodiversity and geodiversity. Understanding the importance of all social actors for the management of protected areas begins with evaluating a specific area during the drafting of the Nature Conservation Study.

Nataša Panić, head of the Department for Educational & Publishing Activities and Communications at the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, says that in addition to the assessment of all the values of the protected areas, an integral part of the mentioned Study is the analysis of the interested public, with a particular emphasis on the population of the future protected area and an assessment of their needs. Reviewing the development plans and initiatives related to the population and local communities is the basis for providing guidelines for the sustainable development of the area and management measures of the protected area.

“Participation of all stakeholders in the protection and development of the future protected area is implemented later through the process of declaring a certain area as protected by conducting a public inspection procedure and having a public discussion related to the Conservation Study and the proposal of the Regulation on the declaration of a certain area as protected. Only based on the consent of all participants in the public inspection and public discussion process can the procedure for declaring the area protected be finalized”, Ms Panić says and adds that after obtaining the status of a protected natural asset and appointing a manager for that particular area, comes further coordination of all social actors in the protection and development of the area by the institution or the organization that has been assigned this function.

She goes on to say that the following are of particular importance in improving the management of protected areas – hiring professional staff who will be multidisciplinary, conducting training, providing the necessary finances and logistics, and facilitating development that will be harmonized with nature without jeopardizing natural values and establishing a partnership with all interested parties. Monitoring and networking with the information systems of various nature conservation institutes and institutions, working on improving the quality of life of local communities, implementation of projects and generating profit for the protected area, but also networking with international partner institutions and programmes and development of eco-tourism infrastructure together with visitors are all important, as are implementation of educational programmes for different target groups and branding of local products that come from the protected area.


Management of natural resources

Photo: Unsplash (Jevgeni Fil)

As part of its activities, the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia also assesses if a certain organization or institution meets the staffing and logistical requirements and can propose a manager for the area for which the Conservation Study is being drafted. The work and activities in the protected area, which are related to the conservation, arrangement, maintenance and implementation of protection and development measures, as well as ensuring security services, are carried out based on the Decree on the declaration of conservation and management documents issued, with an assigned manager being responsible for the Decree’s implementation.

“The Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia issues the manager with a list of nature conservation conditions incorporated into the said documents. The manager also cooperates with communal services and relevant inspectors to prevent and eliminate illegal activities in the protected area. The Institute also carries out professional supervision to review the program’s implementation and management plan in accordance with the given nature conservation conditions,” Ms Panić explains.

To fulfil obligations related to the conservation, improvement and promotion of natural and other values and sustainable use of the protected area, the manager must meet the professional, staffing, and organizational requirements according to the Law on Nature Protection and the Rulebook on the prerequisites that the manager of the protected area must meet. According to that Rulebook, the manager must implement organized conservation, improvement and promotion of sustainable development of the protected area and guard service. Good staff and appropriate technical equipment are also needed, both chosen by the manager. The manager is also in charge of implementing the Management Plan, i.e. its scope and type of planned activities, which largely depends on the staff’s skills and technical equipment.

Serbia also has a concept of public-private partnership (PPP), which is not sufficiently developed. Still, based on the model of good area management in the region, PPP is considered a good option.

Prepared by Mirjana Vujadinović Tomevski

Read the story in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine NATURE CONSERVATION.