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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2010 str. 70     <-- 70 -->        PDF

J. Tomićević, M. A. Shannon, D. Vuletić: DEVELOPING LOCAL CAPACITY FOR PARTICIPATORY... Šumarski list br. 9–10, CXXXIV (2010), 503-515

Max Weber argued, social context and history shape
human action and individuals act within historically
constructed institutional environments (Weber 1978:
4–7 and 22–31;Breiner 1996).Thus, ‘willingness to
invest’indicates recognition by local actors of their ability
to reshape their current context so as to create new
choices by creating new institutions.This is the essential
quality necessary for democratic practices like participatory
management (Shannon 2006).

The livestock sector also plays an important role in
Tara area. Cattle and sheep herding are traditional activities
and play important roles in the daily life of the community.
Today livestock is a major part of the local
production system (e.g. milk, meat, wool). From the survey
results we found that in both villages meat, wool,
and diary products are produced for household purposes
along with brandy, honey and other craftwork. In Jagoštica
village, which is a much more isolated village than
Rastište, local people produce mostly for household purposes
since market access is very restricted. While in
Rastište, there is both subsistence and commercial production
largely due to slightly better access to markets.
However, the continued emigration of younger people
and the reduced numbers of livestock are leading to
more forest cover, less cultivated land, fewer pastures
and meadows, and relatively more orchards in the area.
These landscape changes affect not only the resources
available for human sustenance, but also the nature and
quality of the biodiversity in the Park. It is within this
context of subsistence as well as limited commercial
production and landscape changes that a participatory
process with National Park authorities would be initiated.
Participatory management would link local social
issues of „expanding market opportunities” with ‘biodiversity
protection’, thereby opening opportunities for
improved local livelihoods and biodiversity conservation
through participatory processes.

The goal of local community empowerment in relation
to sustainable development requires that the local
communities are ready to participate in development as
well in conservation processes. Tomićević (2005)
learned that the people of theTara region are willing to
cooperate in implementing any idea of environmental
improvements that also provides them with economic
and educational benefits. Their collective memory
maintains customs aimed toward maintaining good relations
between human beings and their environment,
even though economic development is needed for continued
survival.Assessing readiness and capacity to participate
in management draws from these expressed
intentions, both individual and collective, framing desired
outcomes and strategies.

At noted above, part of the historical context of the
region, and still an important factor in the memory and
attitudes of the local people, is that after the Second
World War,the land belonging to the ‘enemies of the nation’(
individuals who profited during war time) was
confiscated by the State (Ignjić 1986). Confiscated
land was placed in a communal fund or was given to
poor peasants for cultivation (in 1945, 303 ha of cultivated
land were confiscated and in 1954, 852 ha of land
were taken from 272 wealthy peasants). At the time,
there were proposals to establish cattle breeding farms
on the confiscated lands’ (Ignjić 1986: 250). Surprisingly,
given this historical context, we learned through
the interviews that only 13.8 percent (Tab. 1) of the local
population in Rastište expressed a lack of willingness to
cooperate with the National Park managers. From what
people told us in the interviews, these attitudes toward
the Park were related to the confiscation of private lands
during post-war and communist times and the continuing
lack of clear ownership structure between the
state and local people. However, these negative attitudes
regarding the Park characterized older people who had
directly experienced the war and its aftermath.

Table 1.
Distribution of answers on question:Are you in
conflict with the NP? in villages Rastište (n=65)
and Jagoštica (n=37)

Tablica 1 Raspodjela odgovora na pitanje: Da li imate

konflikt sa NP Tara?u selu Rastište(n=65) i

Jagoštica (n=37)

Village – Selo
Answers –Odgovori Frequency
no –ne 56 86.2
yes –da 9 13.8
Total number of respondents
Ukupan broj ispitanika 65 100.0
Village – Selo
no –ne 37 100
yes –da 0 0.0
Total number of respondents
Ukupan broj ispitanika 37 100.0

Nonetheless, in general, the National Park is perceived
positively by most people in both villages. Naturally,
it is very important as one of the few sources of
local job opportunities. Even more interesting, among
younger people there is a recognition of the importance
of nature protection and how it can benefit them.The
collection of medicinal plants is a major source of current
household cash incomes. With technical assistance,
some of the valuable medicinal plants could be
cultivated by the farmers in their own fields and in this
way the local knowledge of how to maintain and sustain
these plants could be of significant assistance to
the Park in conserving them and protecting biodiversity
(Tomićević 2010: 161). In summary, although