FACE Balkans Meeting

FACE staff and Members from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia met in Dolenjske Toplice, Slovenia, to discuss emerging issues and how best to ensure closer cooperation. In recent years there have been moves to align national nature and hunting legislation in the region with that of the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention and the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. The future accession of Croatia to the European Union on July 2013, is also of particular prominence. The meeting was a very important occasion to exchange information on European nature policy and its application at national level.

In many of the countries in the region, there is a growing influence of protectionist organisations that regularly push their agenda using the premise that alignment with EU legislation requires stricter environmental and wildlife protection measures. In many instances this is not the case: for example Natura 2000 is not a system of strictly protected areas but an integrated system of areas that are important for conservation and in which hunting and other activities can take place, as long as they do not conflict with the reason for the designation.    

This Region remains rich in both hunting and nature. It was agreed by all that closer collaboration is needed to ensure that hunters are not adversely affected by changes made within the framework of potential EU accession. In this regard all agreed that regular meetings should take place, and Nikola Markovič, President of the Hunting Association of Montenegro offered to hold the meeting next year in his country.