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Will the Government’s decision to adopt the proposal by the Ministry of Environment to declare Shar Mountain a national park has finally ended the unsolved status of one of Macedonia’s most beautiful areas that has lasted for decades? We talked with Minister Naser Nuredini after the Government’s session about when will Shar Mountain become officially an area protected by the state, what will be the perspectives of the local citizens, will the mountain landscapes will be able to coexist with the small hydropower plants and what other areas in Macedonia still await a protective status.

Since the general public greeted this decision as job well done, it turned out that the process of declaring Shar Mountain a national park is still not over yet. When can we expect the official declaration? Your announcement that the local population will be consulted again looks like the whole process will be lingered.

-That is correct, the process isn’t over yet, as there is a legal procedure that precedes the final declaration on part of the Government, but what is of najor significance for us is that the Government accepted that Shar Mountain has significant natural values and there is need of its protection, and there is no turning back now. What follows now is to carry out a dialogue with local citizens, municipalities, economic entities and other involved sides in order to find joint basis for how Shar Mountain’s status as a national park will function best. But I’m an optimist that despited with situation with the Covid-19, this process will end successfully by the end of September.

But, the local population and the municipalities were already consulted about this issue during the preparations for declaring Shar Mountain as a national park. Why consulting them again? There is a certain disappointment in the public that greeted and considered this task as already done.

-It’s what the law demands it, and there are still open issues, but I’m convinced that these will be solved since everybody has to understand that the declaration of the Shar Mountain for a national park doesn’t mean restrictions for them during their day to day lives, but it will mean controlled and planned activities and the use of natural resources in a sustainable way.

The citizens of the village of Brodec at Shar Mountain have recently contacted us since they were informed that the building of a minor hydropower plant close to their village will be built for which they claim will take away all of their water used for watering. In that region, there are 8 small hydropower plants. How will projects such as these, which have caused a lot of damage to the natural landscapes at Shar Mountain will fit in in the future national park?

-Regarding projects that were approved by the previous authorities or aren’t located in areas where a strict protection is planned, there isn’t much to be done in this moment. But, it should be stated that before the building of these hydropower plants, the local municipality, in this case the municipality of Tetovo had the obligation to consult the local citizens that was hit with the building and I suppose that they have done that.

Apart from declaring Osogovo mountains as protected zones, is the Ministry working on declaring other areas for protected zones, which are they, what type of protection is planned, and what is the difference between the national park status and other types of protection? There were civil initiatives to declare Jablanica mountain a national park and recently there was an online petition that demands Belasica to be declared a national park.

-it is great that the awareness of protecting more in our country is getting stronger. regarding Jablanica mountain something has been done – the beautiful Vevchani wells are already declared as monuments of nature. In this moment there is a study of revalorization of Belasica mountain, but it should be revised since it is obsolete while regarding Jablanica, it is necessary for the local municipality – the municipality of Struga to start an initiative and to find assets for preparing od a study such as this one for Jablanica mountain as well. As soon as they start an initiative such as this we shall support them.