Management Plans for Protected Areas in Serbia
Nature protection is a series of measures and activities aimed at preventing damage to nature, natural values and natural balance. One of these measures is the establishment of protected areas and a system for monitoring their protection. Nature protection has never been a simple and easy process. Since the establishment of the first protected area, more than a century ago, the institutions responsible for management have faced a number of challenges, primarily how to achieve conservation goals while meeting the interests of various groups.
The Law of Nature Protection currently sets forth the preparation of Management Plans of Protected Areas in Serbia, and it defines that the protected areas are managed by a legal entity that meets the professional, human resources and organizational requirements for conservation, improvement, promotion of natural and other values and sustainable use of the protected areas. The Management Plan of the protected area is a document by which the entity in charge of Management Plans monitors the protected area and activities for conservation, improvement and use.
The manager of a protected area adopts a Management Plan for a period of ten years, but for certain protected areas the proclamation act may stipulate that the management plan be adopted for a shorter period (individual trees, tree lines, etc.). The Management Plan determines the manner of implementation of protection, use and management of the protected area, guidelines and priorities for protection and preservation of natural values of the protected area, as well as development guidelines, considering the needs of the local population. Legal entities, entrepreneurs and individuals are obliged to perform activities in the protected area in accordance with the Management Plan. Before the expiration of the period for which the plan is adopted, its implementation and achieved results are analysed, and if necessary, its revision can be performed.
The current Management Plans prepared for the protected areas in Serbia must contain in particular:
- presentation of the main natural and created values, as well as natural resources;
- assessment of the state of the environment of the protected area;
- review of specific activities, activities and processes that represent a factor endangering the protected area;
- long-term goals of conservation and improvement and sustainable development;
- analysis and assessment of conditions for achieving these goals;
- priority activities and measures on protection, maintenance, monitoring and improvement of natural and created values;
- priority tasks of scientific research and educational work;
- planned activities on sustainable use of natural values, development and landscaping;
- spatial identification of planned purposes and land use regimes;
- activities to promote the value of the protected area;
- study (research), program, planning and project documentation required for the implementation of objectives and activities;
- forms of cooperation and partnership with the local population and other owners and users of real estate;
- activities and measures for the implementation of the plan with the dynamics and subjects of the implementation of the management plan and the manner of assessing the success of its implementation;
- financial resources and other material preconditions for the execution of entrusted tasks in the management of the protected area and the manner of their provision.
The manager submits the report on the implementation of the annual program for the previous year to the competent authority by 15th of December of the current year, the manager submits the annual management program for the next year to the competent authority by 15th of November of the current year, and the report on the implementation of the Management Plan referred to in Article 52 of this Law no later than 60 days before the expiration of the period for which the Plan was adopted. The manager is obliged to inform the public about the proposal of the protected area Management Plan, and that implies informing the public about public insight into the proposed Plan. The public inspection is organized and conducted by the manager of the protected area and lasts for 30 days. During the public insight, the manager of the protected area is obliged to organize a public hearing.
Natura 2000 Management Plans
Both Birds and Habitats Directives encourage the Members States on the preparation of Management Plans.
Article 6 of the Habitats Directive requires that “for Special Areas of Conservation, Member States shall establish the necessary conservation measures involving if need be, appropriate management plans specifically designed for the sites or integrated into other development plans”.
The Birds Directive does not explicitly mention the need to prepare Management Plans for SPAs, but Article 4 of the Birds Directive requires the Member States that species mentioned in Annex I shall be the subject of special conservation measures concerning their habitat in order to ensure their survival and reproduction in their area of distribution.
Therefore, although the preparation of Management Plans for the Natura 2000 network is not mandatory, both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive express the need to implement specific management measures which ensure the long-term conservation of the species and habitats.
What should a Management Plan be?
- It must be a document prepared under the responsibility and control of the managers of the protected area in collaboration with the administrations competent for the application of the Birds and Habitats Directives.
- It must be a tool that gives coherence to public and private actions that have an impact on the species and habitats of the area.
- It should be a tool that provides coherence or establishes the limitations of the activities that take place in the area have an impact on the species and habitats of the area.
- It must be a document agreed with all landowners, land users and other stakeholders of the area or with interests in it.
- It must be a process to agree on the conservation objectives of the area and who, how and with what resources they should be done.
- It should not be a scientific study of the area but a document with the assessment of the conservation status of the area and the indicative measures to achieve the Favourable Conservation Status.
- It should not be a Natural Resources Management Plan or a substitute for the General Urban Development Plans.
- It should not be a normative document imposed by the State or by Europe. It should be an agreement document by all parties to fulfil the environmental commitments of the area.
Fundamental aspects for a Natura 2000 Management Plan
During the implementation of the EU for Natura 2000 in Serbia project, the Guidelines for the preparation of Management plans for Natura 2000 in Serbia have been developed.
Moreover, three indicative pilot management plans for the sites Kreljevac, Slano Kopovo and Dolina Pčinje have been developed as a tool to incorporate the approach of the Natura 2000 Management Plans in the preparation of Serbian protected areas Management Plans. There are several benefits of the integration of Natura 2000 and protected areas Management Plans, as for example to prepare them in a systematic approach, identifying clear conservation objectives of the site are undoubtedly identify so that it is evident to all what is being conserved and why; including the assessment of the socio-economic and cultural context of the area and the interactions between different land-uses and the EU protected species and habitats present; and providing an open forum for debate amongst all interest groups on how best to manage the site in light of the local socio-economic context and regional characteristics, incorporating best practices from all over Europe, and being eligible for implementation of EU funded projects, as well as subsidies for landowners, farmers and foresters (check the section http://www.natura2000.gov.rs/en/landowners/)