On the 9th of November 2022, the PONT Executive Director and the Executive Director of Eko-svest ceremonially signed the new Grant Agreement from PONT, approved on the 15th of August 2022. The signing took place during the opening of the first field office of Eko-svest in the village of Vevchani.
Eko-svest implemented a joint grant from PONT and CEPF from November 2021 to June 2022 which focused on involving citizens in mapping of selected species of conservation importance, educating local school children and visitors about nature conservation as well as environmental protection in the Vevchani Springs Monument of Nature (VSMN).
The new grant will extend PONT’s support of Eko-svest in assisting Vevchani Municipality in enhancing management effectiveness in several key functional areas, in line with the current Management Plan for the VSMN.
This new grant will address important gaps in biodiversity monitoring, visitor management, and environmental education. The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between Eko-svest and Vevchani Municipality defines the modes of cooperation in these areas to ensure long-term sustainability and complement the support PONT is providing directly to Vevchani Municipality.
Eko-svest will organise regular eco-patrols led by local students who will document and report on visitor behaviour or illegal activities complementing the work of the ranger service. It will also be a means of awareness raising among local community members and visitors.
Eko-svest will also develop its local constituency through the newly opened local office, enrolling members, especially from among local youth and women. This will increase its legitimacy and representation as a member of the Stakeholder Council of VSMN which serves as the main participatory mechanism.
By using the iNaturalist application for mobile phones, adapted in the Macedonian language through a previous grant from PONT, Eko-svest will continue the work with local volunteers in identifying and mapping priority habitats and species in VSMN, contributing data to biodiversity monitoring.
Photo credits: PONT, Eko-svest