A grant agreement between PONT and the Public Institution Galicica National Park (PIGNP) was signed on 3 August 2018, symbolizing the start of a new phase in the collaboration of the two institutions. The agreement was signed by Mirjam de Koning, Executive Director of PONT, and Andon Bojadzi, Director of PIGNP, and honoured in a meeting on 13 August in Ohrid.
The grant will enable PIGNP to strengthen their capacity for programming and planning operations in line with the management plan. By the end of 2018, PIGNP will develop an operational plan for 2019 that meets the requirements of PONT’s and international standards, as well as a two-year grant proposal to PONT focusing on updating the management plan for the period 2021-2030. In doing so, PIGNP will review experience and lessons learned from the previous planning cycles and establish formal participatory mechanisms to be used in future: the Scientific Council and the Council of Stakeholders. The latter will have an important role in facilitating the input from key stakeholders into the development of the new management plan, to commence in 2019.
The 2019 operational plan will be developed using guidelines to be agreed with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, providing an opportunity to replicate the best practices and lessons learned in operational planning for Galicica NP to other protected areas in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Currently there are no clear standards set.
The improved operational planning and the new management plan will facilitate the ongoing transition from conservation financing predominantly based on forestry activities to one that is increasingly reliant on non-extractive uses of natural resources, tourism activities in particular. With PONT’s contribution of 50% co-financing, the operations in 2019 will mostly concern nature conservation and visitor management.