Thanks for supporting us in 2018!
Let’s start with the latest success coming from our Serbian office: the Ministry of Environmental Protection of the Republic of Serbia adopted a permanent fishing ban on sterlet. This is a result of an official initiative submitted by WWF Adria in June 2018, which was supported by fishermen associations and international experts. The sterlet ban will begin on 1st January 2019.
Sticking to the freshwater, there is another success story currently happening in Croatia – the Nature Protection Inspection has pushed the investor in small hydropower plant Dabrova Dolina on the Mreznica River to implement mitigation measures as stated in the licences. After two years of constant pressure from WWF Adria and partner NGOs, we are hoping that the biggest waterfall on Mreznica, a Natura 2000 site, will be saved.
Lastly, exciting freshwater news comes from our Mura-Drava-Danube (MDD) team made of several WWF offices (Adria, Austria and Hungary). Since UNESCO’s official confirmation of the Slovenian Biosphere Reserve “Mura” last summer, this September Austria sent its nomination to UNESCO for the establishment of the Biosphere Reserve “Lower Mura Valley”. This nomination, and hopefully its confirmation in June next year, will remove the last preconditions for successful completion of a decades-long WWF effort for the establishment of the first-in-the-world 5-country Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”. The second part of the year brought other reasons for celebration. The ruling coalition in Slovenia decided to stop new HPP development on the Mura River in an effort to preserve one of the last semi-natural rivers in Europe. UNESCO’s confirmation and the official decision by Slovenian government are giant leaps forward in our goal of preserving the Amazon of Europe.
In our Protected Areas for Nature and People Program, we have worked hard to connect local communities with protected area management, trying to improve their cooperation through a Community Impact Assessment methodology we’ve implemented in 66 parks. With our partners, we have told numerous motivational stories which can be found on the http://www.natureforpeople.org platform, bringing both an emotional story and know-how with a unique goal – whoever wants to replicate a successful project, just do it!
We have finalized another circle of WWF Nature Academy. Before the program was established, children living near or in protected areas in Serbia had little to no knowledge about them. Most of them rarely visited the sites with their parents or with school. The Academy gave them an opportunity not only to learn more about the nature that surrounds them, but they’ve also created their own projects to promote and conserve their protected areas. Local schools established a collaboration with the management of the PA’s, while students become mentors to new generations, passing on their projects and ensuring the sustainability of the program.
Our Marine Program finished the Blue Smart project with great success: a Master's Degree Programme, developed by the University of Zadar as part of this project, will be financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Education, guaranteeing the enrolment of 10 students free of charge each year.
Furthermore, the Marine team organized a roundtable in Zagreb, gathering all relevant stakeholders from the fishery sector in order to open dialogue between them and find innovative solutions for moving Croatian fishery towards a more sustainable future. They have shared their opinion on the current state of marine resources, how to contribute to their recovery, and what measures should be taken to successfully manage fisheries in Croatia.
We are also active in the field of sustainable tourism! After learning about the outcomes of the DestiMED project’s efforts in the Kornati National Park and the Lastovo Archipelago Nature Park, several other Croatian protected areas have expressed interest in the development of ecotourism packages that benefit nature conservation. On the other hand, after hosting the International Conference on Protected Areas and Sustainable Tourism within the CEETO project, around 80 participants reached a mutual conclusion that we are all guests in nature and we should act accordingly.
Our Wildlife Program is growing: besides the EuroLargeCarnivores Life project, we have launched another one – Carnivora Dinarica. We supported the creation of the EU platform on the coexistence between people and large carnivores in the Dinaric Arc region where 50 participants concluded that cross-border cooperation, exchange of knowledge and experience, and population management across the entire region are of key importance, regardless of current practices.
Last but not least, we want to preserve our nature! It’s our mission to stop the degradation of biodiversity. Therefore, our annual Earth Hour campaign has a strong role in mobilizing millions of people in understanding the value of nature by connecting to Earth. Our key publication published every two years, the Living Planet Report, supports this mission too, revealing not really promising data: in less than 50 years, we've seen an overall decline of 60% in population sizes of vertebrate species. Being the first generation that has a clear picture of the value of nature and the enormous impact we have on it, we may also be the last that can act to reverse this trend.
We need to act! And we already have a great idea for you ☺
We all need water to survive, but without healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands, there is no water. The sources of Europe’s water are protected by the EU Water Framework Directive, but many EU governments want to change it, weakening the protection of our waters. The European Commission now wants you to have your say through its public consultation and this is your only chance to tell them to keep our water law strong. We have prepared the response that will best ensure that the law is kept safe. To #ProtectWater, please act now.
Looking forward to working with you in 2019. Together, we can make it possible!
Best holidays’ wishes to you from the WWF Adria team!