Serbia made the first step on establishing of the Natura 2000 network with the support of the European Union. During the last two and half years, it was identified 277 Potential sites of Community interest (pSCIs) and 85 Special Protection Areas (SPAs). This is one of the main achievements presented at the final conference of the project “EU for Natura 2000 in Serbia”.

“Although the project has fully met and achieved the expected results, we must be aware that this is the beginning of work on the establishment of the Natura 2000 network which has to be continuously supported” said the Assistant Minister of Environmental protection Sandra Dokic.

The territories identified by a team of 30 experts during the implementation of the project will be a part of the future Natura 2000 network in Serbia.

Speaking of the importance of biodiversity protection, Head of Operation 3 in the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia Sakelaris Horudas said that pollution affect everybody – through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we grow our food on. „Pollution is also one of the main reasons for the loss of biodiversity, and biodiversity loss is irreversible. We can’t create specie of a habitat that has disappeared, but we can act now to prevent this loss. Thanks to this project, Serbia has made a step closer to biodiversity conservation by preparing the country for Natura 2000 Network. Today’s final event shows in details what was done and what remains to be achieved.”, said Hourdas.

The team leader of the project, Ana Inigo said that the beneficiaries, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Institutes for Nature Conservation have in their hands the first proposal of potential sites of the Natura 2000 Network, both Special Protection Areas, designated under the Birds Directive, as Sites for Community Interest, designated under the Habitats Directive.

“These areas that cover 38% of the Serbian territory. To identify these areas, it has been necessary to prepare work methodologies, develop informatics tools, as the mobile and web portal application Terenska, which are today a national standard for data collection in nature, and harmonize environmental legislation with European directives, an essential requirement in the process of joining the European Union”, said Ana Inigo.

Nature protection is an essential topic for Serbia as a part of the negotiation process for the accession to the EU, related to the implementation of Chapter 27 dedicated to environmental protection and climate change.

Since 2015, the European Union has donated more than 3,5 million EUR for the establishment of Natura 2000 in Serbia.