The new revenue generation model of the Public Institution Galicica National Park (PIGNP), excluding direct use of natural resources, has paved the way to fully develop some of the key functional areas.
Over the past few years, the park administration has thoroughly reorganised its operations around some of the key functions of an IUCN Category II of Protected Areas – National Park. The highest international standards and best practice guided the restructuring of day-to-day operations with regards to regular and long-term monitoring of biodiversity, active management of habitats, environmental education, and visitor management, in line with the strategic management objectives for the park.
The park administration has been systematically creating the preconditions to carry out these operations effectively, by building its own capacity (training, new staff, upgrade of infrastructure and equipment), but also by building strategic partnerships with local and national actors. These partnerships not only helped the park be more efficient (acquiring experience and level of expertise the park staff lacks) but also strengthen the support from the public, in particular from local communities, by involving them in the decision-making and management of the park.
While some of the partnerships have longer history, the support from the Prespa-Ohrid Nature Trust (PONT) through the grants to the PIGNP, and in particular the grants to the non-governmental organisation and scientific institutions collaborating with PIGNP, was instrumental in expanding them and taking them to a higher level. More specifically, recognising the needs in line with the goals stated in the Management Plan 2021-2030, the organissations having the capacity to complement and extend regular activities of the PIGNP were given priority.
Field activities concerning the “Conservation of some restricted endemic plants from Galicica National Park” were conducted by a team of experts from the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Art, led by Prof. Matevski. The staff of the Nature Conservation Department at PIGNP was fully involved and used the opportunity to enrich their knowledge and experience concerning plant protection. Similarly, in cooperation with the Macedonian Ecological Society, the park updated the information on the nesting colony of the great cormorant and herpetofauna of the Golem Grad island.
The partnership with the Alpine Club Patagonija and the local Association for Sports helped enrich visitor opportunities in the park through the establishment of an Adventure Zone (constructing a Via Ferrata) and organising annual internationally recognised mountain running races. Visitor experience is being improved through implementation of international standards in cooperation with the local association of organisations involved in outdoor adventure and adrenaline activities while ensuring their safety through the cooperation with the local Mountain Rescue Service. The partnership with the Red Cross branch office in Ohrid helped the park reach out to many young people in the local schools and raise their awareness of the park’s values, such as bats and caves, as well as about the need to protect them.
The ongoing cooperation in managing Galicica National Park attests the commitment of both the park authority and the local stakeholders to jointly contribute to local sustainable development by implementing the highest standards and best practice for the benefit of both nature, and people. The support from PONT helps develop long-term, strategic partnerships through the sharing of resources between the park authority and they key stakeholders and help them succeed in attaining their mission.
Written by Kliment Nanev, Public Institution Galicica National Park