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ŠUMARSKI LIST 9-10/2010 str. 73     <-- 73 -->        PDF

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

will be necessary to reorganise the enterprise – to work
in an old fashioned way, and to think modern is not possible
–therefore, we need a new organisational setting,
which should be more effective and sustainable’’.

As is common, the Serbian institutional framework is
currently in a state of flux as a result of the ongoing economic
transition process, including changes in government
ministries and theTara National Park management
authorities related to the democratisation process.This
lack of institutional clarity is having negative consequences.
In an expert interview with the Director of the
Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia, he emphasized
that “many responsibilities overlap.”

“A lack of institutional dialogue and insufficient
collaboration exist and the fact is that the state should
view protected areas more seriously, especially areas
with international significance, because there is still no
clear political attitude in relation to the functions and
significance of protected areas.”Additionally, “the Republic
of Serbia needs a new Law on Nature Protection.
The old act does not provide for the sustainable
development of Serbia” (Director of Nature Conservation
Institute). “A strategy for the protection of biodiversity
does not exist,” according to Director of Nature
Conservation Institute and the director of the Forest Directorate.
Data obtained from different sources (expert
interviews, written reports and literature), shows that
there are no overall strategic documents on biodiversity
management and nature conservation policy.

Thus, the findings of the study show that attitudes
towards the nature conservation policy are not clear
and vary with the interests of the different stakeholders.
From a local perspective, the expert interviews with the
Director of the Public EnterprisesTara National Park,
an adviser for private forest, and the mayor of the municipality
of Bajina Bašta (also the headquarters of the
ParkAdministration in the Park) revealed, “the Biosphere
Reserve nomination is an additional challenge for
us.” The mayor emphasised that such concept would
“activate a new decision making procedure and foster
inter-institutional dialogue.” The director’s attitudes
towards projects based on the concept of sustainable
development are very positive, and he hoped that “the
flexible planning of the Biosphere Reserve model will
allow us to negotiate new and more sustainable forms
of implementing traditional activities.” He also added
that such a model could be positive for local people
who “wereleft on themargin of events.” He claimed,
“the state does not ensure the sustainable development
of these communities. The consequence of such policies
is migration away from the region, and the mountain is
lost to its own inhabitants.”

The findings of this study indicate that all experts
possessed positive expectations in relation to the future
for life inTara National Park, but that the level of communication
and collaboration between stakeholders was
poor. Participatory management can only be successful
if there is strong institutional support from both government
and the community. Both, however, need sufficient
institutional and communicative capacity to succeed.

CONCLUSION – Zaključak

The involvement of people in protected area management
developed from the realization that traditional
top-down management systems were not solving the
problems of over-exploitation of natural resources and
environmental degradation. The most important findings
in our study relevant to participatory management
are that demographic and socio-economic variables help
us to explain why some respondents hold more positive
attitudes towards conservation and the future for life in
Tara National Park. For example, our findings confirm
that level of education influences the attitudes of the
local people with respect to the future life in theTara
area. Positive attitudes towardsTara National Park and
conservation in both villages were significantly influenced
by the age of the respondents and whether or not
they worked for the national park.These findings suggest
that when people are engaged in communicative action
within their social and institutional context, the
capacity for participation is increased.Thus, there is a
positive relationship between education and employment
with a willingness to work toward a better future
through collaboration with management organizations.
As has been found elsewhere, participatory approaches
have proved to be more successful in situations where
the goals of the process are clear and there are positive
attitudes towards conservation (Grumbine 1994; Jacobson1995).

From the perspective of the local people, we learned
that while they are generally willing and interested in engaging
in participatory management, there are currently
no opportunities for the kinds of deliberative discussions
regarding management priorities or implementation strategies.
The only clear relationship between the local people
and the park administration is through direct
employment. It appears that some new discussions are
emerging regarding how the local people can be more involved
in the development of improved roads and market
for local produce. Only if these new discussions
move toward issues regarding the management of the resources
of the protected area and how the livelihoods of
the people can be sustained will increased participatory
capacity emerge.