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Saving Northern Macedonia's 'Green Belt'

September 30, 2020

An area which ran along the Iron Curtain during the Cold War has become a spot rich for flora and fauna. To save it for the future, an initiative is planning to protect the "Green Belt" by creating a national park.

Biodiversity area in Northern Macedonia
Image: Holger Trzeczak/DW

North Macedonia: Protecting the Sharr mountains

Project goal: The overall objective is that local action groups (LAGs) act as stakeholders for the protection of biodiversity and implement joint activities for nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. An integral part of the project is to strengthen cross-border cooperation and exchange between the countries of North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania. 

Project duration: March 2019 to December 2020 

Project budget: €99,982 ($116,318)

Project partners: Project partners include the Macedonian Ecological Society (MES), Protection and Preservation of the Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA), and NGO Finch in Kosovo. 

In the Sharr Mountains in North Macedonia, a former Cold War border strip has emerged as a biodiversity hotspot. In the area which lay on the edges of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, flora and fauna has grown largely without interference. 

There are now plans to create a national park by 2021 to protect this "Green Belt." The non-governmental organization EuroNatur wants to save large areas of this nature spot. Mountain huts are to be renovated to attract hikers while conservationists are fighting against illegal logging in the forests. 

A film by Holger Trzeczak