CENER 21’s new Interreg ADRION project – DINALPCONNECT – Transboundary ecological connectivity of Alps and Dinaric Mountains, officially started with a virtual Kick-off meeting held on September 29th, 2020.

The meeting gathered around 40 participants from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Greece and Montenegro, representing project partners and associated partners of the DINALPCONNECT project consortium.

Project manager, Mrs Irena Bertoncelj, on behalf of the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia – the leading partner, opened the meeting and introduced all participants to the challenges that DINALPCONNECT aims to address as well as to key project objectives.It is highlighted that a substantial part of Balkan Peninsula is affected by difficult political and economic circumstances leading to transboundary barriers which pose challenges for ecological connectivity. The project intervention objective is to strengthen transnational and sectoral cooperation to improve EC throughout Dinaric Mountains, connecting them with the Alps enabling long term protection of biodiversity in view of current and future climatic changes.

“Ecological connectivity (EC) promotes movements of organisms thus facilitating ecological processes which enable long term functioning of ecosystems, preservation of biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services.”

The project consortium was delighted to hear insights and views on the project from the representatives of EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) – Mr Mitja Bricelj and EU strategy for the Alpine region – Mrs Tina Trampuš, who joined the Kick-off meeting.

Mr Bricelj characterized the project as a crucial and very significant for Europe and all countries that represent the contact between Alpine and Dinaric ecosystem, as well as the Adriatic and Danube region.

“We are on the hotspot of biodiversity of Europe and this is very needed project for future generations and the future of Europe. I am very glad that you are tackling these important issues for the future and you are very welcomed partner in European macro-regional strategy. It is necessary to establish blue and green corridors between Alpine and Dinaric ecosystem which should be recognized as zones to prevent further fragmenting the eco – connectivity. Green and Blue corridors are environmental spatial links of Green Infrastructure areas that maintain or improve biodiversity, their basic feature is connectivity. This is huge opportunity to capitalize our knowledge and I am looking forward to future cooperation” – said Mr Bricelj.

The second part of the meeting was devoted to introducing project partners, work packages, planned activities, deliverables and inspiring presentation of project pilot areas and the linkages between them:

  1. Natura 2000 Kras – Natura 2000 Učka and Ćićarija (Slovenia – Croatia);
  2. Tarvisiano Hunting District –Triglav Hunting Management Area/Triglav National Park (Italy – Slovenia);
  3. Natura 2000 Lisac – Una National park and Drvar municipality (Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina);
  4. Northern Pindus – Frasher Village, Permet – Vikos (Albania – Greece).

As a Communication leader, CENER 21 will be in charge of the project promotion and disseminating project results towards DINALCPONNECT key stakeholders and wider public. Mrs Nadira Berbić, Communication Manager, presented the project team, work package, planned activities and expected deliverables. Main responsibilities of CENER 21 team include start-up activities, publications, promotional materials and supporting the organization of public event. In addition, CENER 21 will provide contribution to work packages of implementation which includes: i) Consultation workshop for Strategy of ecological connectivity between Alps and Dinaric Mountains, ii) SWOT workshops with stakeholders and Workshops with stakeholders for preparation of Action plans in pilot regions and iii) Study tour in Slovenia for exchange of knowledge among stakeholders and International scientific conference on ecological connectivity in Slovenia.

The DINALPCONNECT project started in March 2020 and is expected to end in August 2022. The project is being implemented within the Second Call of INTERREG V-B Adriatic – Ionian ADRION Programme 2014 – 2020 which includes European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Instrument for Pre-Accession assistance (IPA) Fund.

The partnership of the project is based on a triple helix approach which in this case represents the collaboration of public institutions, private non – profit institutions and research institutions which are expected to find common, synergistic approach to the project implementation. This partnership consists of 11 project partners from 7 countries:

The project is expected to enhance the capacity in transnationally tackling environmental vulnerability, fragmentation, and the safeguarding of ecosystem services in the Adriatic-Ionian area, through key outputs:

  • Strategy for improved ecological connectivity throughout Dinaric Mountains connecting them with Alps;
  • Pilot regions Action plans to promote ecological connectivity on transboundary level and
  • Network of transboundary Pilot regions.

Although the Kick-off meeting was virtual, we are strongly convinced that the meeting was inspirational and motivating for all participants!

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Cover photo: Marco di Lenardo, Julian Prealps Nature Park