The director of Center for Education and Development, Metin Muaremi, conducted an interview for the show "HORIZONT" broadcast on TV Pologu last week. Muaremi, who is also the chairman of the ‘Friends of Sharra’ Platform, spoke about the idea, challenges and work done to influence the Sharr Mountains to be declared in the National Park category.
He said that the idea for declaring Sharr Mountain in the National Park category came from many factors:‘Since 2012, as we live at the foot of Mount Sharr, every time we have had foreign tourists have been surprised, just as we are surprised by the beauty of Mount Sharr and always they have given us feedback that this beauty also why is it not protected to do something concrete to protect it. So as an organization we immediately started organizing various activities which aimed to promote tourist sites, nature protection, while in 2012 after a study visit to the part of the Sharr Mountain National Park in the Republic of Kosovo, we returned with a motive that we also have to do something, since nature knows no boundaries, there may be administrative boundaries but mountains, plains or natural beauties know no boundaries. From that moment we organized a first event in which we promoted the idea that Sharr Mountain should be declared a National Park although in the 90s there were initiatives, they have been failed as a result of policies.’
Has Sharr Mountain been formalized in the National Park category?
‘So Sharr Mountain from last year, has been formalized, a law has been brought by which Sharr Mountain is declared National Park, now work is done in structures or working units, directorates and governing bodies are created together with boards, which will have the task that this beauty natural be protected according to all legal standards. Currently working on creating a management plan, after the proclamation of Mount Sharr and the creation of various directorates, this region should have a management plan for the next 3 years, which includes all parties where all activities and boundaries are planned in different protection areas.’
What will be the role of the Center for Education and Development in the National Park?
‘Our idea as a civic organization is to cooperate with the leader of the National Park in building their capacities, relying on the partnership with international organizations that deal with the issue of the environment, we will be the critical voice of the citizens and if we see injustice or disrespect of the law in the National Park we will react. We have many good laws, but when they come into practice they are not in function, so we think by standing aside and cooperating with everyone, being critical, the capacities of the National Park will increase.’
What problems has Sharr Mountain faced and how can they be overcome?
‘Unfortunately, Sharr Mountain has many hydropower plants, we have information that there are over 30 hydropower plants that needed to be built, while 11 are under construction or have been built. We can blame that most of the institutions were not transparent in this decision, there should have been general information, public debates and not the residents to find out only when the process is finalized. The economic benefit from hydropower plants compared to the damage done to nature is very large. We as an organization based on our capacities have reacted to these hydropower plants to be shut down, if they are built to respect the laws, if we go to these places, we will see great damage to nature. In the future we must work with every institution to be transparent in the construction of hydropower plants. The photo of illegally cutting down trees is everywhere visible in the Sharr Mountain areas. What we believe is that the National Park institution can be a solution to all problems.’
Will the Sharr Mountain National Park work?
‘We think that Sharr Mountain National Park will work, as we have no other option. The other option could be a real chaos, such cases we have seen in Europe, where from one story, in one region the population has cut down all the trees, and then they are remembered to protect it. So, we do not want to ruin this region and then remind us what to do, so we have to protect it. We have to start from ourselves, from the moment we go out in nature, we have to take care not to throw garbage, since the process of education we have to educate young people that if it turns nature back on, it turns it on even more times worse.’
What benefits do residents have from the National Park?
‘Sharr Mountain today is one of the first destinations for foreign tourists. The Sharr Mountain part is a proper distance as a protected area which associates in safety, beauty, in a previously unexplored tourist place. The arrival of foreigners means more economic benefit for the Sharr Mountain area, especially for families who live in residential areas. Various activities such as inns, restaurants, sports and especially recreational activities will be an important economic benefit for residents.’
What are the future challenges of Sharr Mountain National Park?
‘The future challenges are the full functioning of the Sharr Mountain National Park Directorate. Work should be done on capacity building of the administration and employees who will deal daily with the management of the National Park. Every citizen should be aware of the protection of this region and be the first to react if something is wrong. Institutions need to be more transparent in terms of management plan.’
The interview is available in Albanian: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=269825321969127