Thanks to the EU for the Green Agenda initiative in Serbia, 13 organizations are able to implement their environmental protection projects

Serbia is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe, home to over 44 000 species and subspecies, including more than 1 700 that are legally protected. Though the country accounts for just 2% of Europe’s land, some 74% of Europe’s bird species and 68% of its mammal species can be found in Serbia’s diverse landscapes.

To preserve this rich natural heritage, local civil society organizations are stepping up with support from the EU for Green Agenda in Serbia initiative.

So far, 13 organizations have received financial assistance from the European Union and Switzerland for projects that help preserve biodiversity in protected areas of the country.

A rehabilitation station for sick and injured birds

“Many sick or injured birds just die in the wild, but a lot of these deaths could be prevented,” says Vjekoslav Joksimović from the citizens’ association Jadovnik – an oasis of untouched nature. “If a certain species which feeds five other species gets extinguished, the food chain breaks.”

“That’s why we came up with the idea of a rehabilitation sanctuary to shelter rare and protected bird species, mostly owls, birds of prey and vultures,” he says.

The small facility established on an area of just 200m2, near the village of Milošev Do on mountain Jadovnik, is now ready to provide emergency support to birds of prey and vultures in need, including the Eurasian Griffon vulture. That’s one of Europe’s largest raptors, with a wingspan of up to 2.8 metres. 


Managing water levels for people and wildlife

On the other side of Serbia in the Vojvodina region, eco-activists are working on a project to repurpose the existing canal network on the river Tisa to manage the area’s water level. By maintaining a targeted water level throughout the year, the canal will be able to address the needs of livestock farmers, agricultural producers, hunters and nature conservationists.

“This would be achieved through the installation of overflowing, low dams, which will enable the formation of a larger, shallow water surface for serving plants, livestock and wildlife,” says Miloš Bibin from the Society for Environmental Protection, Okanj-Elemer.

“In this way, the overall diversity will be improved,” Bibin says. “We will also preserve some habitats and traditional natural treasures that have existed in Serbia for centuries.”

Preserving habitats for rare species   

In Tara National Park, well-known for its rich diversity of flora and fauna, activists are working to protect two rare species of owl – the Eurasian pygmy owl and the Boreal owl.

“The goal of our project is to map all the territories of these two species in the park,” explains Nikola Stanojević from the Centre for Biodiversity Reseach.

“This allows us to improve the habitat conditions in nesting places by exempting them from logging during the critical nesting period and by setting up artificial nesting houses,” Stanojević explains.

The entire initiative is implemented with technical and financial support from the European Union, and in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, by the United Nations Development Programme, in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Investment Bank. There is additional funding from the governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Serbia.

Within the EU for the Green Agenda initiative, the European Investment Bank is providing technical support to help structure projects, so that they can more easily obtain financing from other banks.