Preserving biodiversity is one of the key elements of sustainable development, considering that biodiversity is the foundation of life on planet Earth. Protected areas continue to be the most effective tool for nature conservation, as well as the greatest natural assets of a country. The conservation movement for natural areas was initiated with the establishment of the first Yellowstone National Park in 1872. The management model of the first Yellowstone National Park involved a protected area without permanent residents, focusing solely on scientific and educational values. The selection of natural areas suitable for protection has varied in different parts of the world, primarily depending on natural phenomena and specific components of nature. In South America, the focus has been on protecting drinking water, while in Europe, the priority has been the protection of landscape values. However, the shared goal of establishing protected areas has always been the same: enabling target species and habitats to continue their natural development undisturbed, while reducing negative impacts and the intensity of anthropogenic pressures.

Protected areas are established with various objectives, but the general goal of designation and management is the preservation of natural and cultural values. In recent years, new management models have been developed with the aim of enhancing the participation of local communities, policies, and instruments for sustainable management and conservation of natural areas.

The establishment of protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) began relatively late compared to other countries. Compared to the abundance of biodiversity and other natural values, the number and size of protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina are generally small. In BiH, according to the IUCN categorization, which the entity laws are aligned with, a total of 46 areas have been protected, covering 3,12% of the country’s total land area.

CENER 21 is excited to announce the launch of our newest project, “Protected Areas Advocacy Services”, supported by USAID Developing Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A strong motivation to expand the network of nature-protected areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina guides us to invest great efforts in breaking down the misconceptions about protected areas and empowering local communities to recognize the benefits of nature-protected areas.

An eight-month project is focusing on vital activities aimed at bridging the gap between the advantages of protected areas and decision-makers, stakeholders, and local communities. This initiative focuses on five specific areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Livanjsko karst field, Mediterranetum botanical reserve in Neum, Mt. Zvijezda, Mt. Bjelašnica – Igman – Treskavica – Visočica, and the existing protected area suitable for recategorization, Blidinje Nature Park.

How CENER 21 will accomplish this? In order to tackle the challenges associated with resistance towards establishing new protected areas, CENER 21 has devised a comprehensive approach. Recognizing that this resistance can arise from various factors, including economic, cultural, or political concerns, our strategy involves active engagement with local stakeholders. By fostering knowledge and awareness about the importance and purpose of protected areas, we aim to dispel any myths about socio-economic disadvantages forced by establishment of protected areas and to build support for their proclamation.

Focus to our approach is the transparent presentation of the benefits and improvements that can positively impact local economies. We understand the need to effectively communicate these advantages in a straightforward manner. That’s why we have placed a strong emphasis on advocacy as a crucial element in our efforts to double the protected areas in BiH. Through targeted advocacy campaigns, we will strive to garner support and achieve our goal of expanding and preserving protected areas in the country.

By dispelling misconceptions and rectifying misperceptions, we can pave the way for the long-term preservation and flourishing of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s biodiversity richness.

Stay tuned to our website for updates about the Nature-Protected Areas initiative, as we foster protected areas expansion and persistently provide strong support to decision-makers, stakeholders and local communities to recognize the benefits of nature-protected areas.