The latest survey conducted with the local population

Local people believe that Shara Mountain should be declared a national park, according to the latest poll conducted in Polog.

Skopje, 30.03.2021 – Almost identical to 2016, about 83% of respondents believe that Shara Mountain should be declared a national park (82.7% in 2021 and 83.4% in 2016), the latest survey showed. public opinion poll conducted within the project of the Macedonian Ecological Society and the platform “Friends of Shara”.

The survey also showed great readiness of the local population to support the initiative, i.e. about 80% of respondents said they were ready to sign an initiative to declare Shara Mountain a national park, a result presented in 2016.

The situation is identical in terms of what would be the changes from declaring Shar Mountain a national park, ie 86% of all respondents expect positive changes (both in 2016 and 2021).

This is a survey conducted in March 2021 on a representative sample of 628 respondents in the municipalities of Jegunovce, Bogovinje, Tearce, Tetovo, Vrapciste and Gostivar, which within the Polog region covered 2 urban areas (Gostivar and Tetovo) and 38 rural areas. Field surveys were conducted by the IPSOS agency, while the analysis was made by the Macedonian Ecological Society. The sample includes all major mountain villages within the proposed boundaries of the future national park “Shara Mountain”, and the percentage of population from rural areas who answered positively to the question ‘should Shara Mountain be declared as a national park?’ Is 75 %.

According to the two researches from 2016 and 2021, it can be concluded that the previous campaigns and activities of introducing the local population to the process of declaring Shara Mountain as a national park have had a positive effect. The results also show that education activities are needed in terms of sustainable use of natural resources by the local population, as well as information that will clearly define the role of the zones of the future national park, said Frosina Pandurska-Dramikanin, coordinator of project in the Macedonian Ecological Society.

In the survey in 2016, 86% of respondents said that by declaring Shara as a national park “life” will improve, while 4% said it will not , i.e it will remain the same. These percentages are reduced in 2021 where 68% of citizens believe that “life will improve”, ie as many as 19% of them believe that it will remain the same. Generally seen by those respondents who think that life will improve, the residents of the municipality of Gostivar (93% of all residents of the municipality of Gostivar) are more optimistic, claiming that life will improve.

In terms of resources, locals continue to believe that trees and forests should be used more sustainably on the massif. 50% of respondents said that trees, forests and plants should be preserved the most, while this percentage in 2016 was 55%.

More than half of the population knows that in the future park the land is protected / used by zones.

In 2016, the most common responses to what is prohibited in a strict protection zone were that it is prohibited: hunting, building and cutting trees. In the 2021 survey, the same activities are present in citizens’ claims.

Of those respondents who answered the question about what is allowed in the zone for sustainable use (59%), about 120 respondents answered that no activities are allowed in this zone. Exactly this data indicates that in the future greater activities are needed in terms of introducing the local population to the allowed activities in the zone for sustainable use and the zone for active management.

Citizens are aware of the tourist potential of Shara Mountain and believe that the main types of tourism that could be developed are: mountaineering, winter, recreational and sports tourism. Towards the development of the tourist potential, the citizens expressed a positive attitude in terms of renting rooms for tourists, working as tour guides, as well as selling dairy products. Almost all citizens agree with the view that the products produced from the region of Shara Planina want to be labeled as “Ecological product from Shara Mountain”.

The full survey is available at the following link.