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No cooperation in environmental protection between Serbia and Kosovo - Pollution knows no borders    

Objavljeno : 02.04.2018. Štampa El. pošta bookmark

A study about energy sectors in Serbia and Kosovo, published last year, in a separate segment about the state of the environment, reads that the situation was very bad, as a result of the uncontrolled building of housing and industrial facilities, the use of obsolete technology, especially in the exploitation of natural resources, the pollution of waterways because of the absence of treatment systems and accumulation of solid and industrial waste. The authors of the study, Dusan Janjic, Sabri Lamari and Milan Radunovic, have stated that the biggest threat to the environment were the Trepca mining and metallurgical complex, the Obilic mine and thermal power plant and the concrete factory in Pristina.


It was pointed out that a system for treating waste water does not exist in Kosovo, while only 40% of the population, and less than 10% in rural areas, have sewer systems. "The situation with waste water treatment is unfavorable, because of the fact that raw sewage from urban and rural areas runs straight into the Ibar River, or into open canals, without any treatment," the study reads. It was added that very little work is done on the separation, recycling and treatment of waste, and that waste management in urban areas was additionally complicated by the high population density and rising commercial activity. "As a consequence of earlier mining activities and existing landfills, this region is polluted by lead, zinc, cadmium, arsenic, silver and other materials," it was stated.


The World Bank also performed a comprehensive analysis of the state of the environment in Kosovo. According to their analysis, polluted air is the deadliest problem, especially in larger cities like Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica, where the quality of air exceeds all European pollution limits. The analysis also reads that all rivers in Kosovo were classified as polluted sources of water, due to unregulated sewers and inadequate waste disposal. Only 40% of the population is covered by waste collection - significantly lower than 97% in the EU.


The World Bank also found that waste generation soared by 100% in the period from 2008 to 2012, while the percentage of the population covered by waste collection had not changed much. More than 95% of waste in Kosovo ends up at landfills, the majority of which do not fulfill modern standards. Forest devastation is another major problem, primarily because of illegal logging. The World Bank's analysis has shown that illegal logging plagued more than 40% of public forests, and that more than 95% of timber obtained in that way was used for heating. It has been estimated that the annual cost of the devastation of forests in Kosovo had reached more than 19 million euros.


Despite all that, cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo in environmental protection is practically non-existent and, in case of an ecological accident that would affect both territories, it is unclear what the response would look like, who would have jurisdiction and what the consequences would be. For the moment, the authorities in Serbia are showing interest in those municipalities in Kosovo populated by the Serb majority. The Serbian minister for environmental protection, Goran Trivan, has stated that the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija have not been forgotten in the ecological sense and that work is under way on establishing the state of the environment in that region, the same as in other parts of the country.


"We are gathering information from Kosovo and Metohija, primarily in the north of the province and in Serb enclaves, in order to find out what is lacking and what can be done in the field of environmental protection, Trivan told BETA. "Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia and we are treating this matter accordingly," Environmental protection in Kosovo and Metohija is one of the priorities of my ministry. Presently, the ministry has two state secretaries, in charge of Vojvodina and Kosovo, which shows that we are serious," Trivan stated.


So far, there has been no institutional cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina in environmental protection but Trivan believes that despite all the difficulties, cooperation is possible and necessary "because pollution knows no borders and a healthy environment has no alternative." In his words, the main problems in Kosovo, like in central Serbia, are the management of waste and waste water. "I am also drawing attention to the fact that they will have to work with us on the issue of the consequences of the NATO bombing," Trivan said, pointing out that this primarily meant the remediation of soil polluted by depleted uranium after the 1999 military intervention.


The Institute for the Protection of Nature of Serbia has stated that the state secured institutional protection for a number of natural assets in Kosovo and Metohija after World War II. According to Serbian law, the highest level of protection is that of the National Park "Mount Sara", founded in 1986, which covers 22,806 hectares and has 1,800 plant species, including 175 maximum protected and 268 protected species, and almost 400 animal species, of which 30 are globally endangered and 17 are a natural rarity. The national park also includes numerous cultural heritage sites from the medieval Serbian state, built from the 12thto the 16thcentury, like the Monastery of the Holy Archangels, of St. Peter of Koris and of the Holy Mother of God and the churches of St. Nicholas, St. Paraskeve and St. George.


Because of the large number of rare and endangered plant and animal species, Mount Sara is included on several international lists of important areas, like the List of Important Bird Areas in Europe and the list of internationally important plant areas as an IPA area (Important Plant Areas - IPA, Planta Europe, Plantlife, 2005). In 2016, the Institute created a report about the situation in that national park. "According to the report, the main building of the national park is closed, with no employees and markings of the Republic of Serbia, with a posted plaque that reads 'Republic of Kosovo, Ministry for the Environment and Spatial Planning - Directorate for Managing the Mount Sara National Park'. Moreover, there has been a drastic increase in the number of weekend houses and hotels built between the village of Brezovica and the ski-resort," BETA was told at the Institute.


Source: Beta

Photo: Beta


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