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A conference on sustainable and participatory management of protected areas held in Samobor

It is crucial that all relevant stakeholders are involved in processes of planning and management of protected areas, stated the participants of the conference held on 11 and 12 July in Samobor, Croatia, organized as part of the "Partners for Nature" project.

The conference, named "Sustainable and participatory management of protected areas", brought together 50 representatives of various stakeholder groups relevant to the topic of protected areas, including public institutions for management of protected areas of nature, environmental NGOs, representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy, local and regional authorities and economic entities.

The goals and activities of the project itself were briefly presented at the start of the conference, after which project partners presented their previous work and experience in the management of protected areas. The main part of the conference was dedicated to comparing current models of protected areas management in Croatia with models in other European countries, including Switzerland, Hungary and Slovenia, with an overview of the positive and negative aspects of each of the models considered.

In addition, some Croatian examples of good practice have been presented, such as the Significant landscape of Gajna, managed by the non-governmental organization Brod ecological society - BED, which is a unique example in Croatia. The eco center Zlatna greda, a long-term project of the NGO Zeleni Osijek, was also presented as an excellent example of a sustainable model of combining nature protection with economic activity. Since the project, as one of its sub-topics, also deals with the issue of waste management in protected areas, one presentation was dedicated to this topic as well. The final series of lectures dealt with the topic of involvement of stakeholders in the planning processes and management of protected areas, as well as experiences and lessons learned thus far regarding this topic.

In addition to its educational and informative role, the added value of the conference is the very fact that it managed to gather in one place a significant number of people interested in the topic of sustainable management of protected areas from various parts of Croatia and abroad. In this way, it  has also become a place for networking and informal exchange of information and experiences between different stakeholders. We can only hope that interest in other project activities will be as great as in the case of this conference and we are convinced that this will contribute to the overall quality of project's results, as well as to the protection of nature in Croatia in general.

The "Partners for Nature" project is funded through the Swiss-Croatian Cooperation Program. The goal of the project is to build capacities of civil society organizations and public institutions for management of protected areas of nature in Croatia through cooperation and partnership with Swiss civil society organizations and public institutions, in a way that ensures sustainable socio-economic development of local communities. The project is coordinated by Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croata, while partners on the project include three Croatian public institutions for management of protected areas – Green Ring of Zagreb county, Nature Park Lastovo Islands and Međimurska priroda-Public Institution for Nature Protection – as well as the Swiss partner Pro Natura/Friends of the Earth Switzerland.

You can see the entire photo gallery from the conference HERE.

**Programme is co-financed by the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs. The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Zelena akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Government Office for Cooperation with NGOs.

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