Small local producer Azema Šahinović from Orašac, Bosnia and Herzegovina, together with her family travels throughout Nature Park Una, but she doesn’t go there to relax while rafting down the Una River, enjoying the beautiful scenes, or hiking the area.
She is there to find the precious ingredients from protected areas for her jams, juices, and other delicious local produce that are prepared with special care by traditional recipes, keeping in mind sustainability of all used ingredients. The same produce are later sold at NP Una visitor’s markets.
Azema with her husband Almir and two daughters Dejla and Almeida are one of the growing numbers of locals living in, or around the protected area of National Park Una. Some of these families are also returnees that were refugees during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 90’s. They returned to live in the previously war affected area and with the assistance of NP Una management, and the local community started a small business with a focus on sustainable tourism development. Locals create produce and sell them at NP Una visitor’s markets, which enables these same people to make a living in harmony with nature.
As Ms Azema states: “We have an excellent cooperation with the management of NP Una, especially the director Amarildo Mulić, who has helped us and enabled us to work and develop our ideas. We rented a booth, started a small business and all ready for the second year are successfully running our little endeavour. At the booth, we sell local produce that are created with special attention to nature protection and sustainability. We make honey, jam, and natural cosmetics. Next to our own produce we also collect products and souvenirs from other local producers (woven sheets, bags, paintings and other souvenirs).
“At the same time this approach to business helps the local community to live and earn salaries in the protected area of the National Park Una, as opposed to leaving the community and searching for jobs in bigger cities. Furthermore, by having a stronger local community that sees the economic benefit from sustainable tourism, helps the protected area in remaining protected”, says Mr. Amarildo Mulić, director of NP Una.
WWF with NP Una had worked together in bringing this protected area to a certification process and becoming a first NP in BiH certified with a European Charter for Sustainable Tourism Certificate, within a project Dinaric Arck Parks. This joint initiative in bringing NP Una to a greater sustainability continued through a current WWF project Protected Areas for Nature and People. In this initiative a close focus is set on bringing local community to work jointly with the park on sustainable tourism development.
Nela Slezak, WWF Adria