For Shara’s Friends,the initiative to declare Shara Mountain as a national park began in 1994. Members of the Macedonian Ecological Society have been involved in this initiative since its beginnings. In the period 2000-2015, MES implemented various projects for nature conservation in this region as well as for the involvement of local stakeholders in the process of declaring Shara Mountain as a national park. However, all these years the involvement of the local population in this process was limited or very small.
These are the reasons that made MES together with Euronatur from Germany and within the project “Conservation of Biodiversity through sustainable resource management of Shara Mountain” implemented from 2015-2018 and funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) to initiate the establishment of “Shara’s friends” as an informal network of associations from the Polog region that will conduct a campaign in support of the initiative to declare Shara a national park and will ensure active public participation in the whole process.
The platform was established by signing a memorandum of cooperation between the four founding organizations in May 2015. The Memorandum of Cooperation was renewed in 2020 and the founding associations of the Friends of Shara are: Macedonian Ecological Society from Skopje, the mountaineering club “Ljuboten” from Tetovo, the Center for Education and Development from Tearce and the Initiative for Civic Integration – IGI from Gostivar.
The tasks of the platform are the following:
- a) to support the process of declaring Shara Mountain a national park,
- b) to support the work of the future national park in carrying out its tasks in the field of nature conservation, environmental education, activities with rural tourism and other alternative forms of tourism, public relations and the organization of recreational activities; researches and documents,
- c) to raise public awareness of the benefits that the local population can have from the proclamation of Shara Mountain as a national park
- d) to connect Shara Mountain with the regional ecological network and
- e) to improve cooperation with other major protected areas, nature conservation actors, networks of organizations and associations inside and outside the country.
The tasks refer to the organization of public, cultural and scientific events related to the protection of the environment, landscapes, nature and species protection through the provision of expert advice, tourism development and rural development, logistical support of events related to environmental education. environment, practical advice on nature conservation measures as well as preparation and sharing of educational materials and publications based on the work of the Platform.
Mission: Our mission is to declare Shara Mountain a protected area, to use natural resources sustainably, to nurture traditional values and to develop ecotourism in this region
Vision: Preserved and diversive nature in harmony with people
Slogan: Shara – our natural home
The information office – the headquarter of the platform is located in the offices of the Center for Education and Development (CED) in Tearce, old school building 1224 Tearce.