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PEOPLE AND NATURE

© Ante Gugić

Together we can challenge the threats to the natural world, and help ensure nature’s ability to provide for every living thing, including people.

TAKING CARE OF NATURE

The natural world is an incredible wonder that inspires us all. It underpins our economy, society and our very existence. Forests, rivers, oceans and soils give us the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we need for our crops. Our health, happiness and prosperity depend upon the numerous other goods and services that nature provides.  

These natural assets are known as the world's 'natural capital' and they are hugely important for the economy – from farming and forestry to leisure and tourism. Because nature is free, however, we often take it for granted and overexploit it. We clear forests, overfish oceans, pollute rivers and build over wetlands. By not taking into account the benefits we get from nature, we create huge social and economic costs for ourselves.

We need to look at the value of nature in economic and social terms. Instead of making decisions based on short-term financial gains, we can look at the long-term benefits for people and the economy – and of course nature itself. Using this argument, we’re persuading governments and businesses to take better care of the natural world, so that it can continue to sustain us all into the future.

Did you know?

The total value of the benefits nature provides us with is at least US$125 trillion every year.

© Morgan Heim / Day's Edge Productions / WWF-US

Adria - biodiversity hotspot

The protected areas of Adria are home to one of the largest disappearing lakes in Europe (Cerknica, Slovenia), the world's deepest subterranean free-fall vertical drop (the 513m-deep Divka Gromovnica shaft in Northern Velebit National Park, Croatia), one of two remaining old growth forests in Europe (Perućica in Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina), one of the deepest canyons in Europe and the 10th largest in the world (Tara river, Montenegro), the oldest lake in Europe and one of the deepest (Lake Ohrid, Macedonia).

Protected areas account for about 8% of our region; three of them are UNESCO world heritage sites. We use the value of natural capital to advocate for better conservation outcomes.

However, protected areas are typically inadequately managed. The long tradition of top-down decision-making in the Western Balkans, despite the EU accession process, remains the dominant management strategy. The low level of public engagement and the lack of people’s awareness of their rights and responsibilities in democratic society remains an issue. In at least half of Adria’s countries the management of protected areas depends on the exploitation of their own natural resources.

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Our work focuses on having sustainable protected areas which are managed according to the principles of accountability, transparency, equality and inclusion in governance. Protected areas need to fulfil their primary purpose – conservation of biodiversity.

In our region, we have assessed the benefits protected areas offer us, aiming for good institutional cooperation between nature conservation and other sectors, working closely with local communities. More than 1,300 experts, government officers, entrepreneurs, farmers and local community representatives from 58 protected areas were involved. As a result, we have produced 6 national reports with policy recommendations. In addition, more than 900 local stakeholders participated in measuring the interaction between protected areas management and local communities.

Our work focuses on increasing the efficiency of protected areas through improving policies and empowering local communities and civil society to actively participate in policy processes. Through the platform www.natureforpeople.org we are raising awareness on the value of protected areas by showcasing the benefits that protected areas bring both to nature and to people. Our stories show what we do, with examples from many of our regional partners and colleagues.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Help us protect our nature! Share our successes, add your voice to our petitions and support our work.

JOIN

The Adria region hosts vital freshwater ecosystems, almost unspoilt forests and healthy populations of bear, lynx and wolf.

© Wild Wonders of Europe / Milán Radisics / WWF

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