Bird paradise saved in Montenegro

This video is about the beautiful area Ulcinjska Solana and its birds in Montenegro.

From BirdLife:

Ulcinj Salina in Montenegro – from potential disaster to sustainable tourism

By Shaun Hurrell, Wed, 29/10/2014 – 15:09

When watching this video it is hard to believe that Ulcinj Salina was set to be drained and converted into a complex of hotels and golf courses. This beautiful, salty habitat found in coastal Montenegro, is one of the most interesting and important sites for migratory waterbirds in the Mediterranean. CZIP (Center for Protection and Research of Birds; BirdLife in Montenegro) wanted it to keep it that way, so with the support of BirdLife International and other conservation organisations they succeeded in persuading the government to protect the site from development – at least for the next 10 years.

This was a significant victory for nature conservation, not only for Montenegro, but also at a global level, considering that the Ulcinj Salina Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), with its 250 registered bird species, represents the main nesting, wintering, and roosting site for birds passing along the migration route on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. However, more is needed to be done to secure the future of the salina, and CZIP saw the answer lay with eco-tourism, via support from the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (CEPF).

Borut Rubinic, CEPF Regional Implementation Team Programme Officer for the Balkans (based at BirdLife’s Slovenian Partner DOPPS), helped CZIP evolve from a purely voluntary organisation to a professional NGO with nine permanent staff. With this new status, CZIP successfully applied for a CEPF grant to promote alternative and more sustainable livelihoods at Ulcinj Salina. The project proposal took its inspiration from Seeovlje Salina Nature Park in Slovenia, which successfully combines nature and culture tourism with the manufacture of a range of luxury, traditionally-made, salt-based goods.

As you watch paddling flamingos at the lake shore, the backdrop of the old saltworks – now economically unviable – is a reminder of its potential disastrous conversion to a decadent tourist complex. Now CZIP’s CEPF project is well underway and promoting eco-tourism at the salina as much as possible – hence the new promotional video and this new website.

With museum renovations, birdwatching towers, a gift shop and access bridges in place, CZIP recently held an event as part of European Birdwatching Day. For the first time in Montenegro, local guides, trained as part of the project, led nature walks along ecological and educational trails and shared with over 100 participants Ulcinj Salina’s rich biodiversity and ecotourism potential.

The event was opened by the French Ambassador Her Excellency Ms. Véronique Brumeaux and made mainstream national television. The CZIP team also had the opportunity to discuss with VIP ambassadors the problems of Ulcinj Salina and its importance for the Adriatic flyway, which after follow-up meetings will help lead to its protection.

After watching the video, I think you will agree the site will be better as a nature and culture tourism destination than a disastrous development.

Pelicans in Montenegro and Albania

This video from India is called Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus).

From BirdLife:

Cross-border cooperation with CEPF for Lake Skadar and its pelicans

By Shaun Hurrell, Tue, 01/07/2014 – 11:28

Nestled between Montenegro and Albania, Lake Skadar has always captured its visitors – both human and bird – with its wild beauty and rich nature. Known as Skadar Lake to Montenegrins, Shkodra to Albanians, and Scutari to others, this iconic wetland in the Balkans is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe and harbours one of the largest birds in the world – Dalmatian Pelican.

Like the lake itself is shared by Montenegro and Albania, the pelicans, other biodiversity and the health of the habitat is a shared responsibility not only of both countries, but the international community. CEPF*-funded projects at Lake Skadar are proving that effective collaboration by local and international civil society organisations can be the best way to make positive results for conservation. The most successful breeding season for the Dalmatian Pelican has just happened at this transboundary site as a consequence!

Dalmatian Pelican are a traditional symbol of Lake Skadar and more recently there has been a rich tradition of conservation effort and investment into sustainable management at the lake. CEPF experienced this first-hand when two calls for Mediterranean project proposals in 2012 were met with huge interest in Lake Skadar from 15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). To proceed most effectively without ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’, CEPF decided to organise and fund a workshop where all 15 NGOs plus 10 governmental and managing authorities met to settle on conservation priorities for the lake.

Learning from best-practice at Lake Prespa in Greece where the workshop was held, two project proposals emerged directly from the event that together aligned 10 organisations into collaborations for conserving Lake Skadar. CEPF is more than just a funding provider, it works to bring together and engage civil society for the long-term benefit of biodiversity.

Project 1: A new management system for Lake Skadar, 3 NGOs

A major priority for Lake Skadar is to have a sustainable management system that realistically includes the needs of the local Montenegrin and Albanian communities. Regardless of what side of the border they live, these people live on the lake shore and depend upon it for their livelihoods. So a key element in the project is to bring the concept of sustainable management of natural resources to them, increasing their sense of ownership and shared responsibility for the lake for generations to come.

That means education and engagement. It is not good for everyone if people fish during the spawning season or shoot and disturb endangered bird species. And it means synchronised trans-border management between authorities from both countries. Unfortunately the management system of protected areas on the Albanian side is currently undergoing significant structural changes, but grantees are busy preparing a set of modifications to cope with them.

The cooperation of two local NGOs with one international is proving to be an effective model of project implementation, which brings globally-effective examples of good practice to the locally-specific environment. Project coordinator International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) brings international expertise on protected area management, whilst Green Home of Montenegro and the Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania (INCA) provide local engagement.

Project 2: Conservation of Pelicans, a Key Biodiversity Species of Skadar Lake, 7 organisations

Lake Skadar harbours a small breeding population of Vulnerable Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus, which has been struggling here since the 1970s due to many problems, mainly flooding and disturbance. In 2013, led by French NGO Noé Conservation, this large-grant CEPF project shows the power of even more collaborative partnerships.

The project aims to protect the colony and improve breeding success, with patrols by National Park guards, and floating nest platforms to reduce the impact of water level changes. Being an icon for the Lake Skadar, pelican-friendly tourism (Pelican Villages) will also promote the natural heritage of the entire lake, supported also by environmental education campaigns. The project also brings new practices in monitoring and research, and supports local institutions towards the main goal of a rich and stable pelican population.

A critical ecosystem worth conserving!A critical ecosystem worth conserving!

As well as coordinators Noé Conservation, international partners Tour du Valat and EuroNatur provide expert support on scientific practices, which have ensured the recovery of pelican populations and wetland sites in other parts of the Balkan region. This knowledge is combined with lengthy experience gathered by local partners from both sides of the lake – CZIP (BirdLife in Montenegro) and APAWA (the Association for Protection of Aquatic Wildlife in Albania). Natural History Museum of Montenegro (traditionally most intensively involved in pelican study at the lake) and National Park of Skadar Lake (the main managing authority of the lake) combine with the Society for the Protection of Prespa and Pelicans Species Specialist Group (on a consultative basis). Altogether, these complementary actors share knowledge and experience, bringing strong cooperation to ensure the best protection of this critical ecosystem from both sides of the border.

And it is working! This year four nesting rafts were immediately accepted by the pelicans, and used for nesting. Now, from the population estimated at 70 individuals, 48 young pelicans have been counted! This is the biggest number of surviving chicks in over 37 years of counting on Lake Skadar. Both adult and young pelicans are squeezing onto the rafts or freely swimming around – a true nature spectacle and a promise of better days for the Dalmatian Pelican on Lake Skadar.

*BirdLife International – including its Middle East office and the BirdLife Partners DOPPS/BirdLife Slovenia and LPO (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, BirdLife in France) – is providing the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot (CEPF Med). Find out more at

*The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Conservation International (CI), the European Union, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. More information on CEPF can be found at

For conservationists working to protect the remaining breeding colonies of Dalmatian Pelican on Lake Skadar in the Balkans, the fear of breeding failure is an intensely nerve-racking experience: here.

Montenegro forest threatened

This video is called Moraca Monastery and Bridge Across The Tara River, Montenegro.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Blaze nears edge of historic forest

MONTENEGRO: Firefighters are struggling to contain wildfires in the north-east of the country.

The fires have destroyed hundreds of acres of trees and the blaze has reached the outer rim of the Crna Poda forest in the Unesco-protected Tara river canyon, where some of the pine trees are 400 years old.

As the West Burns: Speaking Truth to Fire. Dr. Brian Moench, Truthout in the USA: “During the first week of July, referring to current raging wildfires, Princeton climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer said, ‘What we’re seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat; it looks like fires; it looks like this kind of environmental disaster.’ Up close, it looked scary as hell. Most Utah residents will probably be inhaling wildfire smoke until the fall, and not just this summer, but most summers from now on”: here.

Commercial development threatens Ulcinj Salinas in Montenegro: here.

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Montenegro conservation victory

This video is called Birds in Montenegro.

From BirdLife:

Great Victory for Montenegrin biodiversity!

Thu, May 17, 2012

The months of intensive advocacy work from the Center for Protection and Research of birds of Montenegro (CZIP) and the support from the biggest international centers of nature conservation (BirdLife International , BirdLife Europe, the Secretariats of the Bern and Ramsar Convention, the European Commission, Euronatur and other conservation organisations from Montenegro and abroad) have finally paid off: the Montenegrin Government has decided to refuse a Salt Factory covering 15 square kilometers in the Ulcinj Salina area permission to convert the saltworks, which are one of the most important salty wetlands in the Mediterranean zone, into a tourist attraction with hotels and golf courses.

Moreover, the Government has also decided to grant the Ulcinj Salina area, already internationally recognized for its natural richness (as an Important Bird Area, Emerald Site, and potential Ramsar and Natura 2000 site), the appropriate status of protected area and natural heritage it fully deserves.

This is a significant victory for nature conservation, not only for Montenegro, but also at global level, considering that the Ulcinj Salina area, with its 250 registered bird species, represents the main nesting, wintering, and roosting site for birds passing along the migration route along the eastern coast on the Adriatic Sea.

For more information, please contact Bjanka Prakljacic, Coordinator of programme activities at the Center for Protection and Research of Birds of Montenegro (CZIP).

Montenegrin workers fight corruption

MontenegroBy Ognjen Markovic:

Escalating protests in Montenegro

24 March 2012

Following an initial protest in January, another large demonstration against declining living standards and corruption took place in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on March 18. The protest was organised by the same alliance that called the January protest: the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro (UFTUM), the NGO MANS and the Students’ Union.

According to the UFTUM web site, around 20,000 people took part in the protest. This is a large figure for the tiny state of Montenegro, which voted for its independence from Serbia in 2006, and has a total population of around 200,000.

Probably, the authors mean the total adult population, as the total population is 600,000.

The latest protest was around twice the size of the demonstration in January and reflects growing popular anger at social polarisation and government corruption.

Alluding to last year’s uprisings in the Arab world, the organisers and the media claimed the arrival of a “Montenegrin Spring.”

The government’s response to the rally revealed its increasing nervousness in the face of growing popular anger. The MANS web site records diverse attempts to obstruct the organisation of the protest. Bus companies were pressured to cancel their services, and local administrations made the protest day—Sunday—a workday, obliging public employees to show up for work.

The seat of the government building, the finishing point of the January protest, was barricaded, even though the organisers of Sunday’s march made clear they would not proceed to the government headquarters, but instead disband the crowd at the main city square. Attempting to play down the significance of the event, the Montenegrin authorities claimed just 7,000 took part.

Air Canada baggage handlers walked off the job at airports in Toronto and Montreal today in defiance of new anti-strike legislation, causing nearly 90 flight cancellations and long delays: here.

NATO War On Yugoslavia: DU Bombs Still Claim Lives 13 Years After: here.

Desperate poverty in Montenegro

This video says about itself:

This movie was made to serve as a prime example of post Yugoslav Balkan mentality.

A destruction of a state that was once economically and socially prosperous nation with high inspirations in the world’s affairs. Today, the countries that have sprang from her are only the corrupt, inefficient, filled with post Yugoslavian Balkan uncivilized ignorant mentality in other words, only the light shade of a country that was once SFR Yugoslavia.

Long live Brotherhood and Unity, long live Yugoslavia.

By Ante Dotto:

Hunger strikes spread in Montenegro

27 July 2011

Since the beginning of the year many people have gone on hunger strikes throughout Montenegro, the smallest of the states emerging after the breakup of Yugoslavia. It has a population of around 620,000.

The spate of hunger strikes reflect the desperate situation facing layers of the population amid rising social deprivation and a complete loss of confidence in the political establishment—both the judiciary and the official trade unions.

The main cause of widespread poverty and the widening social divide in Montenegro and neighbouring Balkan states is the restoration of capitalism in Eastern Europe 20 years ago. It was accomplished through a privatisation process in which formerly state-owned factories and infrastructure were sold off to private investors at fire sale prices. Most production in Montenegro has since been discontinued, with plants closed and equipment sold off.

A prime example of this process is described in the Montenegrin weekly Monitor of July 15. The article deals with the social situation in the city of Berane in the underdeveloped northern region of Montenegro. Even though the city itself has only 11,000 people—and the whole municipality around 35,000—Monitor estimates that around 10,000 jobs were lost in the “transition” since the closing down of the region’s larger companies. Currently, only 300 people in the town are employed in the private sector!

The consequences for the living standards of Berane’s citizens is shown by the example of the Arslani family, who have been poor for generations and live on meagre welfare payments. When one brother succumbed to the grinding poverty and took his own life a month ago, the other brother had to take out a loan to bury him.

The family has to bake their own bread three times a day, since they can afford very little but flour. They take their turns bathing in a tin tub after they’ve heated the water on the stove. The mother of the house exclaims, “Sometimes I don’t know which century we are living in”.

The situation is similar in another northern city of Bijelo Polje, once an industrial hub of the region. In the last couple of months, the city has seen hunger strikes at the Lenka shoe factory, the Krisma Bjelasica bakery, and by disabled workers from a number of different companies. Krisma Bjelasica workers have announced they will extend their protest by trying to block the main railway connecting Montenegro with Serbia in the north.

Talking about former Yugoslavia: the 1999 NATO war, the subsequent ethnic cleansing of most non-Albanian people from Kosovo, and the “independence” of Kosovo (not recognized by most countries in the world) have failed to bring the peace and prosperity which war propagandists claimed. Most people in Kosovo are desperately poor; and conflicts are getting bloody once again.