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Exploratory visit to Serbia

EuCAN Director Gwil Wren and Milverton Group leader Trevor Phelps have recently returned from a visit in October 2017 to Vojvodina Province in Serbia where they were shown some fascinating wildlife sites and the work of the Institute charged with designating them and specifying their management.

In particular they were struck by the efforts to deliver protected area management in an open arable landscape. One sustainable example was the management of a protected area of rare communal salt pastures which are extensively grazed by dairy cattle and produce high quality milk (5% butterfat) that is sold at a premium price. About 380 farmers are involved, they have with varying numbers of cattle each but the key is that all milk is taken to a single collection point which allows large quantities to be marketed hence the higher price.

SK protected plants

Backgound information about the area is attached here.

Although mainly flat and predominantly arable there is a lot of wildlife in Vojvodina, but there were also examples of habitat loss/damage and damaging agricultural practices that they are trying to address.

All in all it was a very interesting and informative visit and Gwil feels that EuCAN should aim to maintain our contacts with the Institute and help in some way. At the moment, if there is enough interest, we are considering organising a Study Tour to visit the area, look at the agricultural management issues (erosion, flood management, Climate change – drought has severely hit yields this year, wetland management, invasive species, pollution etc), how that fits with protected areas and the potential of the protected areas for sustainable management through extensive agriculture, eco system services and tourism. As the UK is looking towards a new future and the possibility of a new organisation to safeguard wildlife, Serbia provides an interesting and little-known model which could provoke some interesting discussions about how to manage wildlife particularly in intensively managed areas.

We are also looking at the possibility of wildlife holidays and working holidays (habitat works, species recording/monitoring etc).

A Report of our visit has been completed – a copy is attached here. Further information about plans to visit Vojvodina with EuCAN this coming season will be published soon.

Please feel free to circulate this as appropriate.