Article

Sustainable Development and Strengthening of the Handicraft Tradition in the Mountain Velebit Area

As a result of many years of experience in the field work related to nature and biodiversity protection in Lika and Velebit area we have come to the understanding that adequate protection of natural resources is impossible without also conserving cultural heritage of the area and allowing economic prosperity for local population.
Natural Resources

Programme: Natural Resources

Gbvelebit

As a result of many years of experience in the field work related to nature and biodiversity protection in Lika and Velebit area we have come to the understanding that adequate protection of natural resources is impossible without also conserving cultural heritage of the area and allowing economic prosperity for local population. Therefore Green Action and Lovinac Municipality started the project “Sustainable Development and the Strengthening of the Handicraft tradition in the Mt. Velebit Area” financed by European Union through CARDS 2003 programme in 2005. Project goal is the promotion of economic and social development of the Lika region, integration of Croatia in international initiatives and EU instruments through the introduction of EU standards in handicraft tradition and certification of traditional products as regional products.

Lika-Senj County is exceptionally rich in natural resources (county with the largest area of protected land – nature parks, national parks etc.) and culture-historical notabilities but, unfortunately, is also characterized by slow economic development, little isolated family farms facing difficulties in approaching the market, consequences of Homeland war, unemployment, mostly elderly population and emigration. Local inhabitants, but also regional institutions, are often unaware of all available opportunities or they perceive needed procedures too complicated and therefore numerous potentials of this area stay dormant.

Through this project Green Action and Lovinac Municipality will work on educating and informing inhabitants and supporting selected producers that already have a certain degree of knowledge so that we could jointly contribute to achieving long-term goals of sustainable development such as:

  • Passing on traditional skills to younger population
  • Opening new possibilities for employment in order to stop emigration
  • Enrichment of tourist attractions
  • Usage of natural resources for production of higher level products (selling final product ready for market instead of raw materials) for achieving better cost effectives and indirectly reducing rate of natural resources exploitation
  • Promoting nature and environment conservation activities

Long-term goal of the project is to provide expertise to local people in sustainable crafts, increase self-employment, preserve cultural and natural heritage of the area, prepare the region for EU standards and develop regional identity as part of European identity, under the umbrella of sustainable development.

We also aim to:

  • Network and exchange know-how within the area and with similar European areas
  • Conserve traditional products, standardize and prepare production for the common market of the EU
  • Start up and support income-generating activities through pilot projects

Project activities

All project activities are based on conclusions from discussions between project partners and three-year experience in cooperation with local NGOs and priorities established in this period.

Project activities

  • Creation of a database of local producers and similar projects and experiences from other parts of Croatia and Europe as contribution to better accessibility to knowledge and information
  • Needs assessment analysis via phone or in person through interviews with stakeholders as the basis for database on quantities, producers, possibilities and problems identified
  • Preparation of feasibility study for selected products together with analysis of possibilities for achieving EU standards in production and possibilities of placing the products on the market
  • Organizing a regional conference in the project area and gathering all stakeholders interested in participation in the project to enable exchange of experiences, present concrete practical examples and financial possibilities for rural development in the region
  • Based on the results of the feasibility study and regional conference, pilot projects with wool and agricultural products will be implemented. Traditional wool production is still present in the area and we hope that the increase in demand for raw wool material would lead to prevention of disposal of wool as waste into the environment. Area is also famous for its high quality agricultural products (herbs, jams, beans, juices, brandy), some of which are already recognised in Croatia (e.g. potatoes)
  • Printing of the brochure that will serve as handbook for people attempting to start traditional craft production on the commercial basis and will include presentation of the pilot projects.
  • Creation of project web site.

Project team

Green Action is nongovernmental, nonprofit association of citizens for environmental protection established in 1990, with headquarters in Zagreb. In Velebit and Lika region Green Action is active since 1997 through SOS for Mt. Velebit  and SOS for Gacka campaigns and since 2001 through Green Belt Velebit Project (joint project with World Wide Fund for Nature - WWF).

Contact:

Green Action/FOE Croatia
Frankopanska 1, pp. 952, HR-10 000 Zagreb
Tel/faks: ++385 1 4813 096, tel: ++ 385 1 4813 097
za@zelena-akcija.hr, www.zelena-akcija.hr

Municipality Lovinac is one of the largest in Croatia with the surface of 317,27 km2 and around 1100 inhabitants. It belongs to Lika-Senj County and encompasses (besides Lovinac) also settlements Gornja Ploca, Kik Licko Cerje, Raduc, Ricice, Sveti Rok, Smokric, Stikada and Vranik. Municipality is currently experiencing fast economic growth based primarily on conservation of nature and traditional heritage.

Contact: Municipality Lovinac
Centar 34, 53 444 Lovinac
Tel/fax: 053 681 005
e-mil: opcina.lovinac@gs.t-com.hr


Author: Jagoda Munić

17.08.05. 03:00