PONT has identified two areas among its funding priorities that are not being addressed adequately by its current grants or actions supported by other donors: Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and Sustainable Nature-Based Tourism.
PONT published a call in May 2019 to address the first gap, inviting proposals by environmental actors that are active in the Wider Prespa Area in Albania, North Macedonia, or in both countries, and have interest in the cultivation, production, processing and marketing of NTFPs.
Following a rigid selection process, PONT awarded a grant to the Connecting Natural Values and People (CNVP) for a project concerning sustainable cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants in the Wider Prespa Area to serve as a model of decoupling local economic development from harvesting of wild resources in the protected areas. The CNVP offices in Albania and North Macedonia will help local producers to establish new or build upon existing associations to advance the production and marketing of medicinal and aromatic plants.
Local women will be one of the most important beneficiaries of the project due to their successful involvement in producing and marketing NTFPs and other local produce in the past. The project furthers the achievements of previous initiatives in the Albanian part of the region, in particular the cultivation and marketing of the endemic mountain tea.
The ongoing Local Economic Development project, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, will provide co-financing of the activities in the Albanian part, whereas PONT’s contribution will be used to replicate best practice in North Macedonia and to enable cooperation and transboundary exchange of knowledge. CNVP will open a local office in Resen to ensure the project is implemented effectively over a period of 15 months, starting from September 2019.