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Nature for people
© Tara National Park

Protected areas host the most unique, fragile and valuable elements of our natural wealth. The effectiveness of protected areas is crucial for our well-being.

Protected areas for nature and people

There are few places in the world where you can visit incredible and fascinating wetlands, caves and waterfalls in the same day, and few regions where you can pass through four countries on only one tank of fuel. Our region is one of them! Rich and diverse in species, habitats and cultural heritage, Adria is home to numerous protected areas, which cover around 8% of our region. These areas are ‘natural laboratories’ in the search for model solutions to development challenges, while safeguarding natural and cultural values. 

Our mission is to preserve these places. With almost 90 protected areas gathered in the network of Parks Dinarides, and the same number of civil society organizations, we share a vision and passion for nature protection, helping improve management and enhance interaction with people living in or around these sites.   

There are more than 5,000 endemic plant and animal species in the protected areas of this region.

© Ramona Topic / DZZP
Nature under threat

Nature can be taken for granted and people often don’t appreciate the true purpose of protected areas, which is to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services for nature and people.

This lack of awareness often leads to the mismanagement of protected areas. Inadequate policy frameworks and insufficient funding are big issues. The first leads to inappropriate activities, such as commercial forestry, hunting, mass tourism and development of unsustainable infrastructure. The second leads to tight budgets for conservation work and lack of qualified personnel, and the necessary funding is often secured through unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, sometimes even sponsored by governments.

All this is reflected not only in poorly managed protected areas, but also in the frequent disregard for local communities. For us, involving local people is essential
they have a right to understand and share the benefits of their surroundings, and to be involved when decisions are being made.

Respecting and ensuring fundamental human rights is essential to us, especially the right to information, inclusion of all social groups, transparency, non-discrimination and equality.

© Ajdin Kamber

Our work with protected areas goes back more than a decade. We’ve contributed to the establishment of new protected areas and improved management of existing ones, such as the Mura-Drava-Danube Transboundary Biosphere Reserve or Lastovo Nature Park. By launching the Big Win for the Dinaric Arc in 2008  a joint statement in which nature conservation authorities from South-Eastern Europe agreed to work together on strengthening cooperation in the region we’ve pushed governments to commit their countries to cross-border and national conservation efforts. 

Our work addresses two broad issues – the effectiveness of protected areas and human well-being. To get results we are improving policies and enhancing sectoral cooperation, increasing the capacity of all relevant actors and creating opportunities for local people to be involved in sustainable development.

Supporting the voice and institutional development of civil society as key actors in policy dialogue and decision-making is our priority, as is awareness raising on the benefits of nature and the role of protected areas.

Our work on Protected Areas for Nature and People is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the MAVA Foundation.   


We have an incredibly important few years ahead of us if we are to save the planet. We are working to protect nature, but we can’t do it alone – your support is critical. We need everyone to be part of the solution.



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