December 2016 – Information is the key!

“Information and communication are the main instruments to implement nature protection goals in general and Natura 2000 in particular. Lack of communication and thus lack of information has led to huge problems in the Natura 2000 preparatory process in many EU Member States” , Petri Ahlroth, Director of the Finish Environmental Agency.

Based on the outcomes of a Training Needs Assessment the project team organized two information and training sessions. A wide range of stakeholders were invited – besides the Beneficiaries, relevant institutions and organizations covering state administration, local authorities, NGO sector, scientific organizations and the relevant business sector.

The first training held on 6th December 2016 was focused on EU obligations, Natura 2000 stages and main activities. The presentations covered general Natura 2000 obligations, details on the Birds and the Habitats Directives and the management and decision-making in the Natura 2000 process. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) informed the audience about related legal issues in Montenegro stemming from the new Nature Protection Act (adopted in July 2016). This was followed by a question & answer session and a general discussion.

On 14th December 2016, the second training was organized, oriented more to problem analyses, objectives and main steps in the Natura 2000 process. The project team presented draft versions of the Natura 2000 obligation paper as well as the dictionary of EU terminology. Following that, the participants were split in three groups discussing selected topics. The training was closed after a general discussion and conclusions.

The New Year brought significant changes to the project. With the arrival of a new Team Leader, project activities significantly increased in number and speed up. Sissi Samec is looking back: ‘I arrived on a weekend mid-January, a nice, sunny winter day perfect for a walk through Podgorica. As I already had a short-term assignment in Montenegro and also visited the country as a tourist before, I was really happy – it was always my dream to have a long-term working assignment in Montenegro. Then my first working day, it started with the Steering Committee Meeting in the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. Beneficiaries clearly expressed high expectation from my coordination and communication skills  in order to bring back the project on the right track. Firstly, I was a little bit scarred?, but then I relaxed. I was fully aware that Team Leader´s role is to solve problems and I was happy to step into this new challenge. So let’s start working!’