Montenegro is covered in mountains, many of which are part of the national park system. But five new protected areas have been established in recent years, stimulated by local residents who want to ensure their surroundings stay pristine for years to come.
Take Nature Park Piva in the Durmitor Mountains, hosts the country's highest mountain peaks.
Ivan Krunic grew up here, but before it was a protected area. When the company he was a carpenter for closed down, he found a new career right outside his doorstep – as a park ranger.
“My job cannot be done by someone who doesn’t love nature. I know how to value what we have,” he says.
Pluzine and residents in the Piva Lake area pushed to establish this as a protected area. With the help and support of UNDP and GEF, they developed a plan and in 2015, the 32,800 hectares surrounding their communities was declared Nature Park Piva.
Since then, the visitors have almost doubled, from 28,000 to 48,000. Have a structured system means they can manage this influx of visitors. Rangers monitor for illegal activity like construction, waste disposal and poaching, enforce the rules of the park, manage visitors and act as a guide and rescue service.
Everyday, for instance, Ivan visits surveillance cameras to see what animals have been in the area and check for illegal activity. These cameras are one way to keep people responsible and respectful of the area.
“Many people these days just go somewhere and do whatever they want to do,” says Ivan. “They think they’re entitled to nature, to the resources, but it’s not that way.”
But in Nature Park Piva, 50% of the territory is the local population, so they take good care of the environment.