The Association Sunce, as a part of the service Development of management plans for Natura 2000 and protected areas – Group 5,implemented for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, coordinates development of 8 management plans covering 23 protected areas and 70 ecological network areas (36 marine and 34 inland) in the area of river Krka estuary, islands Hvar, Korčula and Mljet, peninsula Pelješac, Mali Ston Bay and Konavle.
Management plans are developed through a pre-designed structured process that includes a series of internal workshops with employees of public institutions that manage with these areas, and stakeholders’ workshops. In 2021, in cooperation with public institutions, Association Sunce organized a total of 21 stakeholders’ workshops and 11 internal workshops.
Stakeholders’ involvement in the process of management plan drafting is of great importance, because stakeholders’ knowledge and experience from the field can greatly contribute to the development of management plans, but also to its future successful implementation. During organized workshops, stakeholders participated in the analysis of values and pressures of protected areas and ecological network areas, development of vision which represents a brief description of the ideal future state of the area and activities which need to be implemented to achieve conservation goals.
Although each of these protected area and ecological network area are very specific, many of them face similar problems. Marine and coastal target habitats are mostly endangered by the growth of nautical tourism and related free anchoring, as well as fishing activities, beach replenishment activities, shore concreting and marine litter. Growing construction pressures and fires are threatening forest habitats, while abandonment of traditional agricultural activities is causing the overgrowth of grassland habitats on which regular mowing or grazing activities are the best way to preserve biodiversity. Caves and pits have often been used for waste disposal in the past and there has been mechanical damage of cave decorations and disturbance of cave species, mostly bats.
Climate changes are increasingly becoming important issue in the public and is started to be evident on workshops that citizens are becoming more aware of their negative consequences.
The results of the stakeholder involvement process will be visible in the management plans through the evaluation of areas’ values and pressures, set goals and planned activities, their priorities, and associates in their implementation. In the new year, we will continue with the implementation of internal and stakeholders’ workshops, and hope that these management plans will be adopted so that public institutions can start with the more challenging part, their implementation.