Natural development

REC Slovenia joins NATREG project partnership

July 15, 2010 | By Nina Urataric, Gregor Danev
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE: The Vellacher Kotschna nature reserve is one of Carinthia's largest within the Natura 2000 network.

REC Slovenia is one of the 11 partners involved in a SEE Programme project called NATREG (i.e. Managing Natural Assets and Protected Areas as Sustainable Regional Development Opportunities). The main purpose of the project is to identify and promote the potential of natural resources and protected areas as driving forces for sustainable development, and to spread environmental awareness and cultivate broader understanding of the value of nature preservation.

Protected areas are an important aspect of biodiversity conservation, and also have significant social and economic development potential, of which we are not yet fully aware; nor do we know how to best use it. But mostly we have yet to successfully link nature conservation with particular areas of development. The NATREG project aims to boldly address this challenge.

WATERS OF LIFE: Italy's Delta Po River Park is one of Europe's most important wetlands regions.
The project connects six protected areas in the Adria-Alps-Pannonia territory, stretching over five countries. Project pilot areas are: Vellacher Kotschna in the Austrian Carinthian Alps; the Austrian region of Styria; the proposed Mura-Drava regional park in Croatia; the Po River Delta parks of Veneto and Emilia Romagna in Italy; the Deliblato Sands Nature Reserve in Serbia; and Pohorje, a Natura 2000 site in Slovenia. The project lead partner is the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, while REC Slovenia is acting Project Communication Manager.

Hand-in-hand management

GREEN HEART: Forest covers 61% of Styria, Austria's second-largest state.

A key problem for the selected pilot areas, as well as other protected areas, is the lack of coordinated management. That is why one of the main NATREG objectives is to prepare draft management plans for pilot sites. The regions involved in the project are at different levels of management plan development. Many existing recommendations for the preparation of such management plans fail to identify or even recognise sustainable development as an opportunity for nature conservation. This situation often leads to unnecessary disputes and lack of cooperation between nature conservation, development and spatial planning representatives.

Thus the NATREG project is focused on building a constructive dialog between all parties involved. Another focus is to encourage local inhabitants and key stakeholders from regional development, spatial planning, nature protection and other related sectors to participate in the preparation of integrated management plans.

A SHARED HERITAGE: The Mura-Drava transboundary regional park stretches through five countries.

Local stakeholders are the ones who "breathe with the area". Their knowledge of specific needs and problems, and their opinions and ideas are of great importance in defining priorities and strategic goals that will ensure sustainable development of the pilot areas. Stakeholder engagement is a way to involve local people in the planning and delivery of innovative solutions to local problems.

Beginning last summer, the project team carried out a number of consultations, trainings, workshops and meetings with key stakeholders, and will continue to do so. The result of these efforts will be draft management plans for all six pilot areas, which will enable 'development with nature' and will be acceptable for the majority of stakeholders.



The NATREG project team will also:

  • Prepare a joint strategy for integrated management of protected areas, along with an action plan for its implementation;
  • Produce a strategy for developing ecological corridors between protected areas;
  • Improve international cooperation and the transfer of knowledge and experience;
  • Strengthen transnational and cross-sector networking;
  • Identify and use the best examples of good practice for area-specific needs; and
  • Prepare follow-up project ideas to boost regional sustainable development, even after the project is concluded in summer 2011.

Knowledge for nature

RARE MIX: The Deliblato Sands reserve is one of the last and largest oases of sand, steppe, forest and wetland vegetation on the Pannonian Plain.
Another important mission of the NATREG project is to spread the message that nature preservation is a valuable asset. Each project partner is very active in educating the general public about the importance of preserving natural wealth for today and future generations. We are raising awareness about nature protection through various events, publications (brochures, newsletters), workshops and web pages. Only with the right knowledge can we develop with nature!


NATREG project partners:

  • Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, Lead partner
  • Republic of Slovenia, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning
  • The Regional Environmental Center, Country Office Ljubljana
  • Office of the Carinthian Government, Dept. 20 - Spatial Planning and Development, Dept. for Nature Conservation
  • Office of the State Government of Styria, Dept. 16 - State Planning and Regional Development
  • Veneto Region, Spatial Planning and Parks Dept.
  • Klagenfurt University, Department of Economics
  • Regional Agency for Environmental Protection - ARPA Emilia Romagna
  • Public Institute for Spatial Planning of Koprivnica - Krizevci County
  • Public Institute for the Management of Protected Natural Values in the Area of the Koprivnica - Krizevci County
  • Public Enterprise Vojvodinasume