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Macedonia and Albania forestry representatives visit Montenegro

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Macedonia and Albania forestry representatives visit Montenegro.

Aim of the visit
Under organization of SNV Montenegro, representatives of private forest owner associations and the state forest administrations (7 persons) of Albania and Macedonia, as SNV clients, visited Montenegro in the period from 22 to 24 June 2009.
Main aim of the visit was to recognize the Montenegrin private forestry specificities, particularly private forest owners’ organization, to exchange experiences and initiate communication and networking between national private forest owner associations in the region.
The visit was supported by SNV and SIDA project (Macedonia, Albania)
The institutions and sites visited:

  • National association of private forest owners of MNE (NAPFO), Kolašin

  • Charcoal production, entrepreneur - Kolašin

  • Forestry administration of MNE, Head quarters – Pljevlja

  • Forestry administration, Local unit - Žabljak

  • State and private forests within the Local unit - Žabljak

  • National park “Durmitor”, Žabljak

  • National park “Biogradska Gora”, Kolašin

The topics presented during the visit:

  • The process of associating of private forest owners in MNE, experiences and results achieved

  • Situation and trends in private forests and forestry in MNE, particularly professional and extension services to private forest owners,

  • Private forest management practices (examples)

  • Private forest owner’s rights and obligations within the National parks

  • Possibilities for additional income generation (charcoal production).

Regarding the association process and results, the presenters (president of NAPFO, president of a municipal APFO, SNV forestry advisor) stressed that the process of private forest owners’ (PFO) associating was very quick and successful (under SNV support, between 2007 and 2008), resulting in 12 municipal associations (MAPFO) covering almost 95% of private forests. They expressed great satisfaction also with results already achieved through participation of PFO representatives in more or less all forestry sector reform activities, particularly in working groups for development of the National Forest Policy (adopted in 2008) and the new Forest Law (process still ongoing).

Regarding the private forests in MNE (33% of total forest area, which cover 54% of the country, owned by 50.000 owners), the representative of the Forest administration headquarters emphasized that (a) private forests are in rather worse condition than the state ones (e.g. share of coppice forests amounts to 85%), (b) forest administration is in charge for directing management of private forests in MNE, by providing professionally-technical services (including marking of standing trees for felling, stamping of assortments and issuing certificates of their origin) to private forest owners; (c) forestry extension (advisory, education) services, based on contemporary approaches, are now in introductory stage (supported by SNV) for which the new forest law is expected to provide much better framework.
Based on the presented private forest management practices and experiences of private forest owners, it has been pointed out, among others, that current professionally-technical and extension services of Forest administration are not sufficient in quantitative and qualitative terms. In relation to them, the tax on felled timber (in the amount of 1 to 8€ per cubic meter), paid from private forest owners to state budget, is much too high. Additional services are being demanded by private forest owners.
Regarding the treatment of private forests inside the National parks, it has been emphasized (from the director of Biogradska Gora park) that private forest owners could receive some subsidies and compensations for the limitations of their property use and that the new National parks’ law, expected to be adopted soon, should offer better setting for the private forest owners inside parks.

Possibilities for development of some small private businesses closely connected with (private and other) forests, e.g. small charcoal production plant, as opportunities for private forest owners to improve their incomes, also exists.

The topics discussed during the visit:
Next to discussions related to the presented topics, common for all countries, also the following issues have been discussed:

  • Difficulties and disputes for a normal acting of private forest owners’ associations and local forestry communes

  • Transition from communal to private forest property and forestry (Albania)

  • Possibilities for income generation improvements in private forestry sectors

  • Establishing (official) communication, collaboration and networking between national private forest owner associations in the region

  • Possible future role of SNV in all the above mentioned activities and initiatives.

The discussion on the above mentioned issues lead to the following general observations, proposals and conclusions:

  1. Exchange visits and meetings among associations it is a good opportunity to learn and profit from each other as many issues and problems are the same and therefore also the solutions can be the same.

  2. The process of creating associations of private forest owners at national and regional / local is more or less finished in all these countries (plus Bosnia and Herzegovina). In all countries there is a national association and regional / local associations of PFOs.

  1. All the associations are facing more less the same problems such as lack of capacities and experience, facilities and offices, communication, financial and technical support.

  1. All representatives strongly pointed out the great support of SNV for establishment and functioning of the associations and their structures at local and regional levels. In each country, building dialog and relationships between actors for development of institutional reforms in forestry sector is ongoing.

  1. Step by step the national associations become important partners for achieving national forest policy goals and targets.

  1. Regular dialogue between state administration, state forest authority and legitimate private forest owners representatives is an essential prerequisite for the implementation of goals set in the national forest policies or strategies.

  1. All participants concluded that there are a lot of opportunities for improvement of private forest and its management in economic, ecological and social sustainable manner.

  1. It was also concluded that the services which forestry administration provides to private forest owners are not enough. Additional services are required by private forest owners.

  1. They stressed that they have to build the capacity of their associations and personal capacity on improved knowledge in terms of technical forestry knowledge as well as other skills as communication, advocacy, presentation, lobbying, etc. As a result they think that its time to establish a regional vocational training centre.

  1. One aspect that require attention is that the private forest owners in National Parks are treated by law of national parks and they get some subsides / compensations for limitations of forest use in their property, but this it not always enough and properly compensated.

  1. It was also stated that problems and issues that forest owners are facing in this region today could be included under a joint initiative of the national associations and other relevant institutions in the countries of the region. For that reason a general conclusion was drawn that the networking between the private forest associations in the Balkans has to be stronger. The Macedonian representatives launched an idea of establishment of regional association (confederation) of private forest owners, including all Balkans countries. They will contact also the representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in order to consider this possibility. The national association of Macedonia will take the lead role in this.

It was really a valuable visit with very good combination of presentations, discussions and exchange of experiences in private forest owners and private forestry and management matters, national parks matters, small forest related business, accompanied by sightseeing of forests and other natural beauties of Montenegro.
The guests showered the hosts with compliments about the beauty of Montenegro.
As general quote of all participants was “We really learned and saw a lot”.

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