Management plan for the potential NATURA 2000 area of the Pčinja River Valley
As part of the drafting the Management Plan for the potential NATURA 2000 area of the Pčinja river valley, a consultative meeting was held in the monastery of St. Prohor Pčinjski on August 20th, 2021. The meeting was organized by EPTISA, the leader of the consortium that implements the project "EU for NATURA 2000 in Serbia", in cooperation with the manager of the Outstanding Natural Landscape "Pčinja river valley", the Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of Vranje.
In his welcome speech the abbot of the monastery, Methodius, emphasized the importance of the protected area, which is a unique center of natural, cultural and spiritual heritage of our country, in the core of which is the monastery of St. Prohor Pčinjski, which celebrates the 950th anniversary.
The consultative meeting was attended by the representatives of the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, local self-government of the municipality of Bujanovac, non-governmental organizations and local communities that are located in and around the area of Outstanding Natural Landscape "Pčinja river valley".
In the introductory part of the meeting, Pavol Polák, Deputy Team Leader/Expert on Habitats and Specially Protected Areas, presented the NATURA 2000 project and activities on the drafting of the NATURA 2000 Site Management Plan, its relation to the protection of species and their habitats, as well as the socio-economic dimensions of the plan for the local population, emphasizing the possibility of using the plan as an instrument for obtaining financial funds.
After the presentation of the NATURA 2000 project, Igor Aleksić, an expert engaged in the development of the "Pčinja river valley" management plan, introduced the participants to the natural values of the protected area, the state of protection and conservation of target species of the NATURA 2000 network, at the same time giving an overview of the situation and development needs of the Pčinja villages that are infrastructurally underdeveloped.
Snežana Milošević presented the ecological initiatives of the municipality of Bujanovac in the area of the Outstanding Natural Landscape "Pčinja river valley", emphasizing the importance of cross-border cooperation in the use of development IPA funds of the European Union.
In the second part of the meeting, the participants performed a SWOT analysis of the area assessing the advantages and disadvantages, as well as threats and opportunities for sustainable development of the protected area. In the course of discussing the possibilities of implementing projects on nature conservation that enable infrastructural improvement of villages and economic strengthening of their inhabitants, the participants jointly concluded that fast and coordinated action of all participants is needed to reach possible EU funds for NATURA 2000 habitats.
The NATURA 2000 network aims to provide adequate conservation of biodiversity in Europe, considering natural spaces and semi-natural habitats in the light of their interaction with human activities. The NATURA 2000 network is also becoming an ideal framework for maintaining these activities and conserving traditional landscapes. Management plans are a basic tool for ensuring proper coexistence between economic activities and nature conservation. Therefore, the participatory process in their preparation is considered a key activity.