Summer school on nature conservation and sustainable development in Delchevo
A summer school on nature conservation and sustainable development was held from 3 to 13 August, 2016 in Delchevo, as part of the activities of the Nature Conservation Program in Macedonia. The summer school was attended by students from different faculties from the universities “Sts. Cyril and Methodius” in Skopje and “Gotze Delchev” in Shtip.
During the first day, the students acquired initial information and knowledge about the region, including its biological diversity, forestry, agriculture, economy, tourism and geology, and learned about the sociological features of the municipality of Delchevo. These information were presented by professors from both universities. During the second part of the summer school, the Macedonian students had field activities and focused on the challenges related to the economic development, migration of young people and changes in the relief and the landscape. They also developed proposed measures which can assist the municipality in overcoming these negative trends.
Potential measures were systematically developed with the assistance of a SWOT analysis and they were further selected based on their potential to generate change in the system. The resulting activities are focusing on four areas:
- Developing a brand for local products under the name of “Pijanec”, which is the traditional name for the region. The name means a “drunk” and it can excellently present products produced from plums.
- Establishing foundations for tourism development.
The region has excellent conditions for development of rural and mountain tourism.
In order to do this, it is necessary to develop some basic infrastructure, including to renovate some houses in the villages, to place road signs, info boards and signs with the names of the locations interesting for the tourists.
- Use of secondary forest fruits, such as berries and mushrooms, abundant in the forests around Delchevo. Some efforts and investments are needed in order to organize their processing. However, they can bring significant additional income to many families.
- Education and promotion of the business potentials of the municipality.
Since there is lack of practical education and training in Delchevo itself, this issue can be remedied by organizing informal education and promotion of the business potentials of the municipality in the form of voluntary business education and training organized by the municipality. During this training all participants will acquire skills and knowledge how to plan and manage their business.
The students have presented their recommendations for municipal development in front of the representatives of the municipal administration and other stakeholders from the municipality.
The summer school, besides the representative of the Nature Conservation Program team in Macedonia, Prof. Florian Knaus, PhD, responsible for presenting the concept, was also attended by assistants, prof. Thomas Han, (PhD in environment from ETH, Zurrich), Daniela Jovanovska (Master of ecology at the University in Skopje) and other professors from the two universities.
This is a pilot activity for applying an integrated approach in planning local sustainable development on the basis of already developed Swiss concept, which further on can be applied to other similar areas.