We the undersigned demand that Decree of mountain tourism development program on Mt. Stara Planina (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 85/2007), be declared as illegitemate. We demand that the Government of Serbia respects all Serbian laws and international conventions which it must obey as signatory of the same. We want revision of Spatial and Master Plan for Nature Park Stara planina. We want consideration of alternative tourism development (agro-ecotourism, ethno tourism,...) and other sustainable and legal measures for improving the quality of life of Mt. Stara Planina rural communities.
For more info, documents and photos visit: www.savestaraplanina.info
We are contacting you on behalf of dozens of NGOs from whole Serbia which are fighting to save Nature park Stara Planina from destruction by a ski tourism center. The first category Nature Park Stara Planina, of exclusive importance for the Republic of Serbia, is situated about 300 km SE from Belgrade (capital of Republic of Serbia) and around 70 km from town Nish (Naisus). It%u2019s the biggest protected area in Serbia. Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy and Regional Development are planning to build a huge tourist center on central parts of the Stara Planina mountain (Mt. Balcan) in Eastern Serbia. Ministry of Infrastructure forwarded the writing of Spatial Plan for sites of special assignation to the Republic Agency for Spatial Planning and Institute for Architecture and Urbanism which broke the law by ignoring opinion of the Institute for Nature Protection which is the necessary legal procedure. Ministry of Economy and Regional Development which hired the Canadian company Ecosign and company Horwath Consulting Zagreb to construct the Master Plan for tourism development on Stara planina with pre-investment study with physical and technical characteristics of ski center. During their work, they completely ignored the necessary legal procedure to contact the Institute for Nature Protection for it%u2019s official opinion and by that ignored the environmental protection law. These violations of the legal procedures broke the Law for Protection of Natural Environment by articles No. 34, No. 49, No. 51 and No. 127 (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 66/91, No. 83/92, No. 53/93, No. 67/93 and No. 153/2004). Company Ecosign, from Canada, and their partner Horwath Consulting Zagreb were not professional because of the fact that they didn%u2019t make any contact with the Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia and P.E. Srbijasume which is a manager of the Stara Planina Nature Park, ignoring the fact that the planned ski resort is situated in the heart of Stara Planina Nature Park. Therefore, Master plan is illegal and catastrophic for biodiversity and habitat conservation of the mountain. The draft Spatial Plan for the routist region and Nature Park Stara Planina also, doesn%u2019t respect the fact that the plan is about an protected area and it%u2019s completely directed towards ski tourism and Stara planina landscape According to those plans, inside the Nature Park Stara Planina will be constructed about 40 ski lifts, nearly 30 ski tracks (in total length of more then 100 km) and 2 large tourist complexes on locations which are of exceptional significance for conserving the biodiversity. This huge tourism center will have capacity for up to 40.000 people (according to Master Plan) and is situated on the shoulders of the highest parts of the mountain - peaks Midzor (2170m), Babin zub (1758m), Tupanar (1964m),... Cost of the project during several developing years is between 260 million and 300 million Euros. One of the centers (the largest one) will be on one peat meadow Jabu%u010Dko ravni%u0161te which is against the Ramsar Convention for wet-lands which Serbia ratified. Also, Dojkino vrelo peat meadow, also on the list of high priority localites for protection under Ramsar Convention, will be used as a water source for the future ski resort.
Unforunately, the Government of Serbia constructed the first ski lift in the Babin zub area in 2006, without any planning documents and violating Serbian legislation. The first ski track was oppened on 30th December 2006 next to the peak Babin zub, causing huge erosion. Therefore, this was the first big illegal activity and destruction which was conducted on the Mt. Stara planina by the Government of Serbia (Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy and Regional Development). On that occasion, 6 official laws of Republic of Serbia were violated: Law on Planing and Construction (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 47/2003 and No. 34/2006), Law on Forests (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 46/91, No. 83/92, No. 53/93, No. 54/93, No. 60/93 - revision., No. 67/93, No. 48/94, No. 54/96 and No. 101/2005), Law on Surface Waters (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 46/91, No. 53/93, No. 67/93, No. 48/94, No. 54/96 and No. 101/2005), Decree on the Protection of Park of Nature Stara planina (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 19/97), Law for Protection of Natural Environment by articles No. 34, No. 49, No. 51 and No. 127 (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 66/91, No. 83/92, No. 53/93, No. 67/93 and No. 153/2004) and Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 50/93). On Babin Zub, ski lifts have already been constructed and enormous forest complexes have been cut through for planning ski routes. On the barren steep mountainous ground, inevitable land slides and erosion have been initiated and it is only a question of time when the remaining thinned out fragments of century old spruce forests will also be damaged. Immeasurable destruction has already been made by widening the existing road to the ski lifts. Forest complexes have been destroyed and water erosion is already causing significant damage.
The amount of money which Republic of Serbia (Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy and Regional Development) wants to invest only during the 2008 in building ski paths, infrastructure and equipment for artificial snow and ski lifts, is 31.213.000 Euros. Such a sum is sufficient to provide 100.000 sheep, 500 tractors with accessory machinery and finance of up to 20.000 Euros per Stara Planina house-hold for tourist categorization, house reconstruction and adaptation for ethno tourism or starting of small, environmentally sustainable processing facilities (drying-rooms, dairies, processing of non timber forestry products, etc...). Thus, the stated amount is enough for supporting development of at least 500 house-holds willing to start agricultural or any other kind of production, processing or services (with 100% financing from the state), or much more if principle is co-financing (matching grants which would increase the number of project beneficiary's of these funds, and increase the level of beneficiary responsibilities in using above mentioned funds).
This program is officially based on existing society consensus which in the case of Stara Planina is not correct. It is claimed that the Master Plan has been built upon detailed analysis of recognized potentials of Stara planina. However, it is neither possible to find evidence of social surveys of local communities nor details of local community consultation by the creators of the Spatial and Master Plan (Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Economy and Regional Development together with Ecosign and Horwath Consulting Zagreb) for Stara planina. Since this is the case, it is not honest to claim transparency in realization of this project. Another serious anomaly of the project is to highlight that there is a 5 month season under snow at altitudes above 1700 meters. In recent years, the Balkan Peninsula is one of Europe's region's where climate change is most recognizable. Ironically, the opening of the first ski lift on the mountain on 30th December 2006 is remembered for the season when minimal quantities of snow fell in Serbia. Sadly however, on that day, illegal government activities became official.
For its exceptional significance in protecting the entire Natural heritage, Geological heritage, gene pool, species and ecosystem diversity of Serbia and the Balkan Peninsula, the Serbian Government proclaimed in 1997 Stara Planina as a Nature Park, enjoying the First Category of Protection - as of utmost importance for the country (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 19/97). Besides, Stara Planina is on the list of potential Serbian geological-parks. Stara Planina also has the status of significant International region. It is on the list for International Important Bird Areas (IBA-Bird Life International, 1997), on the list for International Important Plant Areas (IPA-PlantaEuropa, 2005), on the list of Prime Butterfly Areas in Europe, on the preliminary list of Cross-border Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO protection (Man and Biosphere, UNESCO), on the list of Important Ramsar Sites (peat meadows), on the Emerald list (sites significant for conserving the European ecological network), on the list of cross-border protected region placed in the European programme Green Belt (IUCN), on the list of ProGEO geological heritage sites under The European Association for the Conservation of the Geological Heritage (since 2000), cross-border project that is being realized at the moment: Cross-border cooperation through joint natural resources management %u2013 Promotion of networking and cooperation between South-East Europe with Bulgaria is in the group of projects of Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe ReREP. This model of cross-border cooperation is in this case recommended as a solution for the general protection of biodiversity, and at the same time as a Park of Peace in the European Initiative Parks for Life and in Pan-European strategy for biological and landscape diversity. This project was initiated in 1999 by the Ministries for Natural Environment of European Union. Such a National and International status of Stara Planina results from Biodiversity Convention which Serbia ratified in 2001, the Bonn Convention and Bern Convention (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 102/07), Ramsar Convention (ratified in 1992), from the 1992 Council of Europe Directive on Habitats, joining ProGEO in 1995 and from many other International agreements .
There are 344 moss species on Mt. Stara Planina. Among them are numerous species which are protected by various international and Serbian laws. Species that live on decaying wood and peat meadows are extreamly threatened. Great danger for these species present hydro-geological works because of great changes in the water balance of their habitat. Very threatened is Buxbaumia viridis, protected with Bern Convention and Habitat Directive in the whole of Europe, because of habitat destruction (wet tree trunks), here threatened because of forest destruction. It%u2019s similar with Dicranum viride (which is also protected with Bern Convention), and some white peat maedow moss species: Sphagnum capillifolium, Sphagnum cuspidatum, Sphagnum palustre, Sphagnum rubellum, Sphagnum squarrosum and Sphagnum subsecundum which are protected with Habitat Directive. From the European Red Book of Bryophyta, the following species are present: Brachythecium geheebii, Bryum neodamense, Encalyptra microstoma, Grimmia caespiticia, Lophozia dscendens, Paraleucobryum sauteri i Pseudoleskea saviana. With ski-center construction on the Jabu%u010Dko ravni%u0161te, the peat meadow and water usage from Dojkino vrelo peat meadow, two most important peat meadows will be destroyed. This is a direct threat for all peat meadow associated moss species: Anastrophyllum minutum, Barbilophozia floerkei, Barbilophozia hatcheri, Bazzania trilobata, azzania tricrenata, Lophozia adscendens, Leiocolea badensis, Leiocolea collaris, Leiocolea hetrocolpos i Scapania aequiloba i mahovine Amphidium mougeotii, Anomodon rugelii, Buxbaumia viridis, Cynodontium brutonii, Dichodontium palustre, Dicranum fuscescens, Dicranum viride, Diphyscium foliosum, Encalypta ciliata, Grimmia caespiticia, Physcomitrium piriforme, Pohlia longicolla, Orthotrichum obtusifolium, Paraleucobrium sauteri, Pseudoleskea saviana, Sphagnum capillifolium, Sphagnum cuspidatum, Sphagnum palustre, Sphagnum rubellum, Sphagnum squarrosum, Sphagnum subsecundum, Tetraphis pellucida and Timmia bavarica.
Diversity of flora of the Serbian part of the Stara Planina mountain (second half is in Bulgaria) with at least 1195 growing plant species, of which 116 (9,7% from all recorded species) are locally or regionally endemic. Endemics are the most threatened category and also the most important floristic elements for the biodiversity. An example of the danger of wild tourism development is seen in the near extinction of Winged Bell (Campanula calycialata) which grew only on Stara planina whose one part of it%u2019s fragile population was destroyed during the first phases of the project. On Stara Planina grow 9 species from the World Red List (Cota macrantha, Dianthus banaticus, Scabiosa fumaroides, Pedicualris heterodonta, Tozzia alpina, Acer heldreichii, Delphinium fissum and Viola dacica), 42 species are on the European Red List of which 4 are critically endangered (Lycopodium complanatum, Pinus mugo, Rosa balcanica, Androsace elongata), 3 species from the Habitat Directive (Gentiana lutea), 45 species from the CITES list (41 species of orchids), 179 species with the regional IUCN threat status, 14 species from the National Red List and 153 species from that are protected in various ways by the national legislature. Also, 21 plant species are locally critically endangered (IUCN YUCR): Lathyrus pancici, Alnus viridis, Androsace elongata, Angelica brachyradia, Bupleurum pachnospermum, Campanula thyrsoidea, Clematis alpina, Eranthis hyemalis, Gentiana lutea, Heracleum verticillatum, Pinus mugo, Juniperus sabine, Knautia ambiqua, Lycopodium complanatum, Oenanthe stenoloba, Peucidanum minutifolium, Rosa balcanica, Senecio pancicii, Swertia punctata, Tozzia alpina, Trifolium badium var. pseudobachium. From the Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities (Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia: No. 50/93) 40 species are present and therefore it is illegal to damage and destroy their habitat. Bern Convention is also protecting 2 species growing on the mountain %u2013 Campanula abietina and Lilium jankae. Peat meadows are habitats for dozens of endemic plant species. On peat meadows of Stara Planina, grow about 50-70 endemic species on average. It should be emphasised that Jabu%u010Dko ravni%u0161te is the largest peat meadow and it is threatened because this illegal project is planning to make a tourist development covering this fragile habitat with concrete buildings and parking lots. The second largest peat meadow of the mountain, Doj%u010Dino vrelo, will be used as water source, which will severely change the hydrological dynamic of the site and hence irreparably damage it as a habitat. The most important endemic plant species growing on these peat meadows are Senecio pancicii, Ciscium heterotrichum, Cardamine aeris, Barbarea balcana, Geum coccinum, Rumex balcanicus, Silene asterias, Dactylorhiza cordygera. Beside them, one of the most important is Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia), a very rare and very threatened insectivorous plant species which became extinct in other parts of Serbia. It should be remembered that mountain peat meadows today represent the most scarce and threatened World ecosystems. According to IUCN categorization, they are specified among fragile (very sensitive) ecosystems, in which the smallest changes of abiotic and biotic factors are critical (the disappearance of only 1-2 species can result in total collapse of the system.). Besides, peat meadows are centers of biodiversity and their conservation is the responsibility of our country (Serbia) according to the Directives signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. As types of wetland habitats which can not be renewed, the Ramsar Convention (at the 8th Conference in 2003) identifies bogs together with mangroves and coral reefs, as the most vulnerable and most threatened due to habitat loss and degradation, which need necessary urgent and priority activities for their protection and conservation (Global Review of Wetland Resources and Priorities for Wetland Inventory). Among the basic threatening factors, physical changes of the terrain are taken into account. Some other endemics are endangered because of parking lots and ski track constructions: Jovibarba heuffelii, Minuartia bulgarica, Silene lerchenfoldianae, Campanula calycialata, Campanula trojanensis, Saxifraga paniculata, Symphyandra wanneri, Alyssium wierzbickii, Alium melanantherum,... What is also very important to highlight is that diverse forest vegetations (Piceetum excelsae serbicum, Fagetum subalpinum serbicum %u0438 Fagetum submontanum mixtum silicicolum) are protecting steep slopes of the mountain from erosion. Construction of ski tracks (logging, bulldozer activites) on fragile steep slopes will unavoidably begin a process of erosion; this has already happened on some parts of the mountain where development was illegally started.
On Stara Planina live 136 species of butterflies, of which 3 are protected by Bern Convention (Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosinae, Mountain Apollo Parnassius apollo, Large Blue Butterfly Maculinea arion), 4 are declared as national rarities by Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities (Old World Swallowtail Papilio machaon, Clouded Apollo Parnassius mnemosinae, Mountain Apollo Parnassius apollo, Southern Festoon Zerynthia polyxena). By IUCN categorization, among butterflies that live on Stara Planina there are 6 endangered species (Almond-eyed Ringlet Erebia alberganus, Bulgarian Ringlet Erebia orientalis, Lesser Purple Emperor Apatura iris, Poplar Admiral Limentis populi, Zephyr Blue Plebeius pylaon, Old World Swallowtail Papilio machaon), 37 vulnerable and 21 rare species. From the European conservation concern, there are 14 species recorded. Species E. orientalis, E. alberganus, Bog Fritillary Proclossiana eunomia and Spinose Skipper Muschampia cribrellum in Serbia live only on Stara Planina. High altitude specie E. orientalis is a Glacial relict, E. alberganus is a Tertiary relict, while P. eunomia is crucially dependent on peat meadow vegetation - and all three species are living on the territory of the planned mega ski resort (Babin zub, Midzor, Topli Do). 69 species are interesting from aspects of protection, while 64 are in the 3 most threatened categories. The most important localites for butterflies on Stara Planina are Babin Zub (planned to be a huge parking lot), Crni Vrh (planned for tourist center and parking lots), Midzor (planned ski tracks nearby) and Topli Do (planned for one of the tourist resort centres).
Considering fish fauna of the mountain (26 species), the most important is Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) with the very limited dispersal of its local strain of the unique mtDNA haplotype different from other populations in Serbia, being similar to the Caucasian Brown Trout. In addition, in the cold mountain rivers lives the Golden Loach (Sabanejewia aurata) which is under protection by Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities. Also, Bern Convention issues protection of six fish species which also occur in the streams and rivers of Stara Planina Mt. (Spirlin Alburnoides bipunctatus, Balkan Barb Barbus balcanicus, Spined Loach Cobitis taenia, Balkan Loach Cobitis elongata, Golden Spined Loach Sabanejewia aurata, Kessler's Gudgeon Gobio kessleri). Since the use of mountain springs as water sources for the demands of accommodation facilities compromises the current water balance, the expected effects on aquatic animals will be extremely harmful. Numerous streams and small rivers that are fragile ecosystems will also be threatened by pollution from effluent and drainage.
On Stara Planina live 18 species of amphibians and reptiles, of which 10 are protected with Bern Convention (Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, European Green Toad Pseudepidale (Bufo) viridis, Dice Snake Natrix tessellata, Nose-horned viper Vipera ammodytes, Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca, Aesculapian Snake Zamenis longissimus, Wall Lizard Podarcis muralis, Eastern green lizard Lacerta viridis, Sand Lizard Lacerta agilis and Snake-eyed skink Ablepharus kitaibelii), while 8 are protected with Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities (Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra, Yellow-bellied Toad Bombina variegata, Common Toad Bufo bufo, European Green Toad Pseudepidale (Bufo) viridis, Viviparous Lizard Zootoca vivipara, Snake-eyed skink Ablepharus kitaibelii, Aesculapian Snake Zamenis longissimus and Smooth Snake Coronella austriaca). There are only 3 known places in Serbia where Z. vivipara populations are found. Only one population that wasn%u2019t threatened by human activities up to this time was on Stara Planina, near the locality (one of the mountain peaks) Babin Zub, which is planned as the starting point for several ski-tracks and also predicted as a parking lot. It is almost certain that it will be lost if the works proceed.
So far, 206 bird species are recorded on Stara Planina. From that number, 140 bird species are protected by Bern Convention, but some of them have already become extinct in the past on Mt. Stara Planina due to human activity (Gypaetus barbatus, Tetrax tetrax, Aegipius monachus, Gyps fulvus, Falco naumanni and Neophron percnopterus). For example, by cutting one road for all-terrain vehicles to the mountain peak Babin Zub in 1980%u2019s, three species that were nesting there disappeared (Pyrrhocorax graculus, Falco peregrinus and Aquila chrysaetos). This recorded event provides a sobering warning of the likely implication for nesting birds should such a large development go through. Localities that are planned to be developed into ski centers and ski tracks are also among the most important for rare and endangered nesting bird fauna.
The following localities are under consideration for development which will endanger nesting / bird species which bred there in the recent past and which are protected by Bern Convention and Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities:
- Golema Reka mountain slope %u2013 Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris, Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes, Short-toed Eagle Circaeetus gallicus, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Crested Tit Parus cristatus
- Toplodolska Reka river %u2013 Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Peregrine Falco peregrinus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
- Bratkova strana - Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris balcanica, Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Saker Falco cherrug, Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
- Peaks Mid%u017Eor and Tupanar - Saker Falco cherrug, Dotterel Eudromias morinellus, Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis, Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris, Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris balcanica
- Peak Babin Zub - Peregrine Falco peregrinus, Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus, Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris, Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris, Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca, Rock Thrush Monticola saxatilis
- Jabu%u010Dko Ravni%u0161te peat meadow - Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Whinchat Saxicola rubetra, Nightjar Caprimuglus europaeus, Tawny Owl Strix aluco, Grey Partridge Perdix perdix, Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
It is of great importance for these species that their habitat remains preserved. This is especially important for Dotterel (only breeding place on Balkan penninsula), Balcan Horned Lark E. alpestris balcanica (on of just few breeding localites in Serbia), Saker, Capercaillie (only locality in E Serbia), Woodcock (the most important breeding localites in E Serbia), Alpine Accentor (Balcan subspecies subalpina, which has only 5 more breeding localites in Serbia)
There are some 60 species of mammals on Stara Planina, among which some are very rare. Such is the case with Snow Vole (Chionomys nivalis), an extremely rare living fossil of Tertiary origin which lives on the highest slopes of the mountain and it is directly threatened by the ski resort. Together with Snow Vole, under Decree on the Protection of Natural Rarities, additional 19 mammal species and their habitat are protected. On the direct threat of habitat destruction are Lynx (Lynx lynx), Marbled Polecat Vormela peregusna, Mole Rat (Spalax leucodon), Suslik (Spermophilus citellus), Water Shrew (Neomys fodiens), Southern Water Shrew (Neomys anomalus). Also, Bern Convention, Apendix II is protecting 6 species: Suslik (S. citellus) Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Marbled Polecat (Vormela peregusna), Grey Wolf (Canis lupus), Wild Cat (Felis silvestris) and Otter (Lutra lutra), while Apendix III also protects an additional 12 species. Only the Grey Wolf and Wild Cat in Serbia are not protected by law and sadly enough, considered as game animals. Especially those from Apendix II are threatened by habitat destruction from the building and presence of ski resort.
Among all these above mentioned species are many Tertiary and Glacial relicts, Balkan endemics, natural rarities of Serbia, threatened and critically endangered species of global significance for preserving the biodiversity. Beside the living creatures, there is also one very important dinosaurian track fossil site from lower Triassic from numerous mostly unknown species. Since this is one of the oldest dinosaur sites in the World, with traces of unknown species, more intensive research is necessary for discovering the true identity of creatures likely to be new to science. If this project goes on, this site will also be affected and possibly destroyed.
According to many scientific findings, this kind of tourism is likely to be unsustainable due to climate change (higher warming temperatures and lower snow yield), strong competition in the region (many ski resorts in the region as Bansko, Borovec, Kopaonik, Durmitor and ski areas in Slovenia) and diversity destruction which will take effect. An assumption of developers is that program implementation will lead to complementary development and better living standard of local population. This is not a sufficient argument for realization of the stated Master Plan because in rural regions of Stara Planina exist alternative and environmentally benign development options. These measures include support for traditional animal husbandry based on the use of high value mountain grasslands, support to organic farming, support to branding and marketing of agricultural products with accent on typical products (sheep products, honey, wool carpets, medicinal plants, authentic hand crafts, cheese and other dairy products) and support to development of rural or ethno-tourism projects and other aspects of sustainable tourism. Stated development of ethno-tourism must be followed with state fundings in local infrastructure reconstruction (roads, water supply, waste management, telecommunication, etc). Measures in rural / ethno-tourism development must be orientated toward existing villages and especially toward ones with preserved authentic unities, where financial help is needed for reconstruction and adaptation of objects in local ethno-architecture style, with prerequisite for accomplishing terms for tourist's categorization.
It is vigorously recommended that an alternative of rural (agro / eco and ethnic) tourism could be developed and made profitable on a sustainable basis without major habitat destruction. This would require less investment and would benefit and preserve the local community. This kind of tourism would improve the quality of life of local people by enabling them to find additional outlets for their food and craft products and local services. Eco-tourism has been previously recommended by IUCN as the only acceptable kind of tourism development of this region. Also the World Bank is now working on a project with local communities to improve ecological management of Stara Planina Nature Park (142,000 ha), biodiversity and sustainable natural resource-use incorporated in a major agricultural and rural development program, for example including c.30,000 ha of grasslands under sustainable grazing.
WE NEED TO PRESSURE OUR GOVERNMENT TO STOP FURTHER SKI CENTER CONSTRUCTION WORKS ON STARA PLANINA. It is still not too late because a major part of realization of the project would start during 2008. We will try to unite all possible ecological societies and associations in Serbia and alert the International community. Therefore, PLEASE HELP US TO STOP THIS ILLEGAL PROJECT AND DEFEND OUR NATURE!