All along the watch towers in the Balkan Peninsula

10 June 2009 | News story

A guide on how to preserve shared natural heritage in the border region of Albania, Kosovo* and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been published today by IUCN.

The south-western part of the Balkan Peninsula is a global hotspot for biodiversity. A long-term trespassing ban in the border region allowed wildlife to flourish. The area is home to rare plant species and large European carnivores such as brown bears, wolves and lynx.

“These border areas represent some of the last intact natural sites in Europe,” says co-author Tomasz Pezold, of IUCN’s Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe. “Cooperation of border police and nature conservation authorities can help prevent illegal activities that damage natural resources. Such cooperation can also help mitigate tensions and re-establish friendly neighbourly relations. It’s a win-win situation”.

The field guide, All Along the Watch Towers, is the outcome of a project run by IUCN and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) within the European Green Belt Initiative. It brought together local communities, border police and conservationists.

The guide, which contains accounts of species found in the region, is designed for border police who will encounter the animals in their work. In some parts of the border region they are the only people with access to these habitats.

The authors hope the border police will use the field guide to report on the species occurring in the border region and monitor illegal activities, such as logging and fires, which may threaten them.

“The book is just the beginning,” says co-author Andrea Strauss, of IUCN’s Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe. “This was the first project of its kind in the Balkans. We managed to initiate cooperation and exchange of information between the border police, nature conservation organizations and local communities, which had never existed before. We’ve now got a network and a base for future cooperation. The next step will be to formalize this”.

To read the full report, please visit: http://www.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2009-008.pdf

Note to Editors:

*For the purpose of this publication the name Kosovo has been used to refer to the territory under the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, established in 1999 by the UN Security Council resolution 1244.

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

  • Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations Officer, Tel:  +41 22 999 0115 , Mob:  +41 79 857 4072 
    E-mail: borjana.pervan@iucn.org

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges.

IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,000 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.

www.iucn.org