Exemplary nature conservation at the European Green Belt

‘Green and vital’ is the motto of the community of Peja in Western Kosovo. And that’s not hot air at all. Peja has recently been decorated as ‘Model municipality of the European Green Belt’.

Together for the European Green Belt – the prize ceremony for Peja received great attention far beyond the region. © Fatlum Hasani
Mayor Gazmend Muhaxheri (2nd from right) with EuroNatur project manager Sandra Wigger (left) and NGO partners from ERA. © Fatlum Hasani

From all over Kosovo, people visit Peja to experience unspoiled nature, and the community is very active to preserve it like it is. For example, the mayor of Peja is unwaveringly refusing for many years to approve the construction of five hydropower plants in the Rugova Canyon right in Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park. The community opposes plans by Carinthian power supply company KELAG and its Kosovar subsidiary to block the canyon with hydropower dams, and perseveringly resists national and international pressure by the government of Kosovo and the Austrian embassy.

In his acceptance speech, mayor Gazmend Muhaxheri confirmed that the community will “stay loyal to the idea that hydropower plants must not be built in Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park. Kosovo has alternative resources to produce energy. We cannot accept the destruction of what nature created over millions of years. Of course we will continue to keep Peja ‘green and vital’!” EuroNatur project manager Sandra Wigger, who presented the certificate to Gazmend Muhaxheri on behalf of the European Green Belt Association, added: “The award ‘Model municipality of the European Green Belt’ will support Peja in preserving the natural treasures of Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park.”

The ceremony, which was part of this year’s ‘European Green Belt Days’, was attended by several representatives from Peja. They all want to help develop their community regardful of nature. Government representatives of adjoining Montenegro and Albania took the chance to discuss nature conservation issues with their neighbours at the Green Belt.

Background:

Peja and the European Green Belt: The Green Belt Europe is a corridor of habitats for an exceptional diversity of species stretching across 12 500 kilometres (over 7700 miles) from the far North of Europe to the Black and Adriatic Seas in the South.

Peja is located in the border region of Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania, and thus in the area of the former Iron Curtain, now the Balkan Green Belt. Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park is an outstanding natural treasure of this region.

The award: The non-monetary award ‘Model municipality of the European Green Belt’ is offered by the European Green Belt Association to strengthen communities which work for the preservation of the European Green Belt in an exemplary manner.

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