Representatives of the governments of eight countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – have endorsed today a key agreement for the protection of the environment in Dinaric Arc Region. WWF, the global conservation organisation, organized this event with IUCN and Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro.

Today’s agreement sees the Dinaric ARc countries formally commit to strengthen regional cooperation in conservation and sustainable development, and the establishment of trilateral transboundary protected areas between Albania, Kosovo*, Macedonia and Montenegro. The first two marine protected areas in Montenegro were also approved for creation. This agreement is increasing the 8 countries protected territory of  more than 13%  and is enforcing the creation of  2 new national parks, 10 protected  landscapes, and 3 marine protected areas.

The eight countries have committed to assess the economic value of their natural capital, while integrating nature conservation goals into economic development plans for fisheries, forestry, agriculture, energy, spatial planning, and cross-sectoral cooperation.

“The beautiful Dinaric ARc region in south-eastern Europe is rich in natural resources and has been identified by WWF as a place of global importance for its abundant biodiversity,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “WWF applauds all governments involved for their commitment to choose the long-term benefits associated with sustainable development over short-term economic gains.”

The 8 countries commit to evaluate the contribution of protected areas to their own and the region’s economy, and to draft sustainable financing schemes for protected areas. This will include plans to build sustainable tourism in these areas over the next five years.

“The nature knows no borders”, said Boris Erg, director of IUCN Programme office for South-Eastern Europe. “In this sence, this event is very important step to strenghten istitutional cooperation and creation of regional platform that will help harmonization of standards in nature protection. Strengthening regional cooperation of the competent institutions is the foundation of long-term protection of wildlife and the sustainable use of natural resources”.

“WWF is proud to have supported the Dinaric Arc countries in the development of a regional network of almost 80 protected areas, known as the Dinaric Arc parks network,” said Paolo Lombardi, Director of WWF Mediterranean. “This transboundary cooperation in the field of nature protection is happening for the first time in this region, and should scale up the development of sustainable tourism in the region.”

Dinaric Arc is the most water-rich area in the Mediterranean, and hosts the largest European virgin forest and healthy populations of large carnivores – including bear, lynx, wolf and golden jackal. The region also boasts the second deepest canyon in the world and is home to more than 5,000 unique species.