Project Profile: Balkans
Cross-border cooperation on the Green Belt
Crisis prevention through nature conservation in the West Balkans
In South-East Europe, the Green Belt ecological corridor runs along the Albanian, Kosovo and Macedonian border. Beginning in 1991, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, former Yugoslavia broke up into several composite republics, one of which was Macedonia. Serbia responded to independence aspirations with military force. After the NATO intervention in 1999, the province of Kosovo became a UN protectorate and went on to declare itself a republic in 2008. Albania likewise underwent political transformation during the 1990s. The EU has granted candidate status to Macedonia and also recognises Albania and Kosovo as potential candidates.
The European Green Belt Initiative has the vision of creating the backbone of an ecological network from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea as a symbol of cross-border cooperation in nature conservation and of sustainable development. The area along the former Iron Curtain is to be transformed into an ecological corridor under international protection. The initiative also aims to help harmonise human activities with the natural environment and promote the socioeconomic development of local populations. Key aims in South-East Europe also include conflict prevention and international understanding.
The project strengthens cross-border cooperation between nature conservation practitioners in the border areas of Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia. The region stands out for exceptional biodiversity in upper mountain zones. Besides the local population, target groups include both state agencies (protected area administrations, border police and scientific institutions) and NGOs (nature conservation organisations).
- Capacity building in interest groups and civil society for biodiversity management in the project area
- Strengthening of cross-sectoral and international cooperation in nature conservation
- Sensitisation of interest groups and civil society to the protection of natural monuments in the border area.
The project is implemented on the ground by IUCN and national partners. Subprojects have comprised All Along the Watchtowers from 2008 to 2009 and Walk on the Wild Side from 2009 to 2010. The project is carbon-neutral.
The project also promotes public acceptance of the work of armed border guards and their integration into local communities in that they are involved in protecting shared natural heritage and the region’s unique biodiversity. Information on nature along the south-eastern European Green Belt was prepared in a field guide.
Activities to further the project objectives include a training seminar and a study trip to the National Parks of Sumava (Bohemian Forest/Czech Republic), Bavarian Forest and Berchtesgaden (Germany) on management and financing protected areas, biodiversity monitoring (with the focus on large predators), EU nature conservation policy and forms of cross-border cooperation. The results were compiled in a book presenting best-practice examples of transboundary collaborations in nature conservation.
Strauss, A. & Pezold, T. [Eds.] (2009): All Along the Watchtowers: Field guide for the South Eastern European Green Belt. – Belgrade: IUCN. viii + 78 p.
Vasilijevic, M. & Pezold, T. [Eds.] (2011): Crossing Borders for Nature: European examples of transboundary conservation. Beldrade: IUCN. x + 73 p.
Vasilijevic, M; Pezold, T.; Spangenberg, A.; Schneider-Jacoby, M. & Carius, F. (2012): Grenzüberschreitender Naturschutz auf dem Westbalkan. In: Natur und Landschaft, Issue 9/10, Volume 87, pp 425-429.
Project period: From 2008
Funding Programmes: Interministerial Steering Group for Civilian Crisis Prevention; BMU Advisory Assistance Programme
Countries: Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia
Project management at BfN:
Section I 2.3 International Nature Conservation
Contact: Florian Carius