European Rewilding Network

Bear Watching and Conservation Tourism in the Western Balkans

The USAID funded Regional Economic Growth project (tourism) in the Western Balkans is supporting the development of bear viewing and conservation volunteer experiences for visitors, to provide a new source of revenue for regional National Parks, as an alternative to commercial/unsustainable hunting.

Project: Bear Watching and Conservation Tourism in the Western Balkans
Region: Mavrovo and Pelister National Parks
Type of protection: Protected areas/ National Parks
Habitat types: Dinaric karst Mountains and Pine Forest
Keystone species: 120 Bears, 18 -20 Lynx, Red Deer, 1,200 Wild Goat, Eagle – Mavrovo; 40 Bears, 4-5 Lynx, Red Deer and Wild Goat, Eagle - Pelister
Fauna (mega) species present: Dinaric Pindus Brown Bear, Wolf, Lynx, Deer, Mountain Goat and Wild Boar
Aim and vision: To showcase the potential of sustainable tourism to fund conservation in the Western Balkans region. Protected areas across the region are primarily funded by timber production and the sale of park produce. Protected area managers are under pressure to develop hunting as an additional source of income.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is Europe’s Biodiversity ‘Hotspot’, across the Balkans many of Europe’s large mammals still exist in a truly wild state. Sustainable wildlife tourism is undeveloped in the region. We hope to show National Parks, community groups and Governments in the region a new approach to funding and conservation.
Uniqueness of the project: No National Parks in the Western Balkans have developed high value, low volume wildlife tourism offers. This is a first for the region.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: For all National Parks in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia to offer sustainable small group wildlife tourism which funds conservation work and benefits local communities around each protected area.
Results so far: We have created the first offers in Mavrovo and Pelister National Parks, trained the park rangers as guides and developed conservation activities for guests. Pelister have built the first Bear viewing hide, Mavrovo are planning to build 2 in the first half of 2016. We have staged the first trial tour of the new program for local conservation experts (from across the Balkans), so far 6 more protected areas in the region have asked for support to develop similar offers.
Inspirational value: Across the Balkans (and much of Eastern Europe), National Parks and protected areas harbour some of the greatest biodiversity in the continent, but lack the knowledge and entrepreneurial business skills needed to develop a new source of income from sustainable tourism. This project helps the parks and local businesses to create new offers for themselves, and to ensure that the new income is dedicated to conservation work. By generating income for local communities we can help them to value the flora and fauna of the protected areas.
Experience you would like to share: For many years National Parks have been under Government pressure to develop an income from tourism, the parks have been reluctant to do this as they, (and the Government) can only think in terms of mass tourism or hunting which they know will be harmful. The new types of offers -for high value, low volume and low impact tourism have been received enthusiastically by the park managers and rangers who have been asked to take part in the project
Experience you would like to gain: We would like help with the marketing and promotion of the new tourism offers. We would like to make contact with specialist international wildlife tour operators and travel media
Map
Country
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Start year
2016
Size (ha)
Mavrovo NP – 72,000 & Pelister NP – 17,150
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Flagship species
Bear

The USAID funded Regional Economic Growth project (tourism) in the Western Balkans is supporting the development of bear viewing and conservation volunteer experiences for visitors, to provide a new source of revenue for regional National Parks, as an alternative to commercial/unsustainable hunting.

Map
Country
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Start year
2016
Size (ha)
Mavrovo NP – 72,000 & Pelister NP – 17,150
Area type
Forest-grassland mosaic
Flagship species
Bear
Specification
Project: Bear Watching and Conservation Tourism in the Western Balkans
Region: Mavrovo and Pelister National Parks
Type of protection: Protected areas/ National Parks
Habitat types: Dinaric karst Mountains and Pine Forest
Keystone species: 120 Bears, 18 -20 Lynx, Red Deer, 1,200 Wild Goat, Eagle – Mavrovo; 40 Bears, 4-5 Lynx, Red Deer and Wild Goat, Eagle - Pelister
Fauna (mega) species present: Dinaric Pindus Brown Bear, Wolf, Lynx, Deer, Mountain Goat and Wild Boar
Description
Aim and vision: To showcase the potential of sustainable tourism to fund conservation in the Western Balkans region. Protected areas across the region are primarily funded by timber production and the sale of park produce. Protected area managers are under pressure to develop hunting as an additional source of income.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is Europe’s Biodiversity ‘Hotspot’, across the Balkans many of Europe’s large mammals still exist in a truly wild state. Sustainable wildlife tourism is undeveloped in the region. We hope to show National Parks, community groups and Governments in the region a new approach to funding and conservation.
Uniqueness of the project: No National Parks in the Western Balkans have developed high value, low volume wildlife tourism offers. This is a first for the region.
Other activities: Community involved, Eco tourism, Education, Recreational activities, Research
Achievements
Results you aim to accomplish in 10 years from now on: For all National Parks in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia to offer sustainable small group wildlife tourism which funds conservation work and benefits local communities around each protected area.
Results so far: We have created the first offers in Mavrovo and Pelister National Parks, trained the park rangers as guides and developed conservation activities for guests. Pelister have built the first Bear viewing hide, Mavrovo are planning to build 2 in the first half of 2016. We have staged the first trial tour of the new program for local conservation experts (from across the Balkans), so far 6 more protected areas in the region have asked for support to develop similar offers.
Exchange
Inspirational value: Across the Balkans (and much of Eastern Europe), National Parks and protected areas harbour some of the greatest biodiversity in the continent, but lack the knowledge and entrepreneurial business skills needed to develop a new source of income from sustainable tourism. This project helps the parks and local businesses to create new offers for themselves, and to ensure that the new income is dedicated to conservation work. By generating income for local communities we can help them to value the flora and fauna of the protected areas.
Experience you would like to share: For many years National Parks have been under Government pressure to develop an income from tourism, the parks have been reluctant to do this as they, (and the Government) can only think in terms of mass tourism or hunting which they know will be harmful. The new types of offers -for high value, low volume and low impact tourism have been received enthusiastically by the park managers and rangers who have been asked to take part in the project
Experience you would like to gain: We would like help with the marketing and promotion of the new tourism offers. We would like to make contact with specialist international wildlife tour operators and travel media
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