Tourism development in the Nature Park Stara planina, Serbia

Serbian government modified national laws to allow for ski tourism development in the Stara planina nature park


The idea of tourist resorts in the mountain Stara planina Mountain date from the 1980s. In 1990 a Public Utility Company was created to facilitate the project. In 1997, the mountain Stara planina was constituted as a Nature park. In 2002, the Serbian government proclaimed the project of tourist resorts one of the 50 most important development projects, and started the construction of ski tracks and lifts at the locality Babin zub in 2006, without planning documents.

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Basic Data
NameTourism development in the Nature Park Stara planina, Serbia
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific CommoditiesTourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe ski-resort would have 40 lifts and 30 ski slopes (total length of more then 100km), and capacity of 18,000 beds and 30,000 skiers per day.

Project covers area of 11,000 ha of protected Nature park Stara planina, habitat to 43 strictly protected plant and animal species.

The construction of ski-resort includes logging of 3,000 ha of the forest.
Project Area (in hectares)11,000
Level of Investment (in USD)670,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2006
End Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesEcosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd. from Canada - In charge of management over ski-resort
JP Skijalista Srbije (Republic of Serbia) - Investor, state company
Meliá Hotels International, S.A. from Spain - Spanish company investing in hotels
Sigma capital management - Investing in hotels
JP “Babin zub” - Investing in hotels
HG hoteli - Investing in hotels
JP "Srbijašume" - Public company in charge of protection of the Nature park Stara Planina
Falkensteiner from Austria - In 2012 the group "Falkensteiner" signed 15-years contract with public company "Stara Planina" on the management of the hotel "Stara Planina"
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Republic of Serbia; Ministry of Finance of Republic of Serbia; Ministry of Energy, Development and Environmental Protection of Republic of Serbia; Institute of Nature Conservation of Serbia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociation for conservation and sustainable development of Stara planina ( including: Mountaineering Association of Serbia (; Nature Society "Natura Balkanika"; Alpinist Club "Srebrna Glava"; Society of farmers "Stara planina"; Society for Conservation of Nature "Stara planina"; Biology Student Science and Research Society "Josif Pancic"; Society of Young Researchers of Institute of Geography "Branislav Bukurov"; Biological Society "Dr Sava Petrovic”; Ecological and Research Society "Mladen Karaman"; Ecological Movement of Yugoslavia – National Unity; Local Education and Ecological Challenge “Stari Begej-Carska Bara”; Ecological Movement of Novi Sad; Society of friends of nature; League for Ornithological Action of Serbia; Bird Protection and Study Society of Vojvodina; Center for Developing Ecological Awareness - "The Well"; Eco-Base "JUG"; Civil society for protection of animals, life environment and rare endangered sorts of herbs "Beloglavi sup"; Homestead Asociation of "Valjevo"; Center for eco-ethnological research "Bostava"; Ecological association "Baštara"; Young Researchers of Belgrade; Biological Research Society "Josif Pančić"; Volunteers' Centre of Vojvodina; European Geographic Asociation - entity Novi Sad; Center for Civil Society Development "Protecta"; Society for Protection of Nature "Okanj"; Society for Biodiversity Conservation "Mustela"; Gorans Movement of Sremska Mitrovica; Society for Study and Protection of Fishes "Umbra"; Ecological Society of Local Community "Gornja Grabovica"; Ecomovement "Odzaci"; Ecological association, "Avalon"; "Jugo Cycling Company"; Ecological Club "Zeleni ključ"; Yugoslav Association for Water Law; Climbing Club "Adrenalin"; Sanitary Ecology Society; Environmental Ambassadors; Ecological association “Vanessa”, Svetozar Miletic; Green Network of Vojvodina; "Anastazija"; Society for Chinese traditional fighting skills "Hua Kang"; Center for promotion of creativity "Inspiration"; Society for nature lovers, medicine plants and fitotherapy "Mellisa"; Botanical garden for mountain plants of Montenegro; Civil society "Eko-kamp"; Ecological society "Waiting for Wind"; Camping Association of Serbia; Balkan Youth Union; Association „HabiProt“ Belgrade; Association „Zaštitimo Zvezdarsku šumu“ Belgrade; Biological research society „Sergej D. Matvejev“ Belgrade; Bird Study and Protection Society of Serbia Novi Sad.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Threats to use arms
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
On line petition:; Student scientific camps
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Desertification/Drought, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
New legislation
Development of AlternativesThe civil association demanded the environmental law enforcement and stopping of the project as they found it environmentally and economically unsustainable. Since 2012, the project opponents have been quiet.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.In 2010, the Law of Nature Protection (Sl. Glasnik RS. Br 88/2010) and the Protection Zones Law was modified to allow building in the second and third zones of protected area. In 2012, The Law on Planning and Construction (Official Gazette. Nr. 31/2012) was changed to enable legalizing the state financed buildings even if constructed in the protected areas. The constructed infrastructure was put in operation. In 2013, the project was once again acknowledged as being in the national interest, and it has been fully developed in the years that followed.
Sources and Materials

Opako ubijanje prirode
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Zakon o zastiti prirode (Sl. Glasnik RS, br 36/2009)

Zakon o izmenama i dopunama zakona o zastiti prirode (Sl. Glasnik RS, br 88/2010)

Uredba o rezimima zastite (Sl. Glasnik RS, br 31/2012)

Zakon o planiranju i izgradnji (Sl. Glasnik RS, br 31/2012)

Resenje o davanju dozvole za izvodjenje radova i aktivnosti, odnosno projekata na zasticenom podrucju iz oblasti turizma
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Saopštenje Asocijacije za očuvanje i održivi razvoj Stare planine
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Španci investiraju u Staru planinu
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Slalom po džepu
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Januar bez snega na Staroj planini
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Strahuju da će ostati bez vode
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Studenti promovišu lepote i običaje Stare planine
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Republička građevinska inspekcija naložila rušenje nelegalno sazidanih žičara na Staroj planini!
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Nema vode i struje u hotelu
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Produžen rok za Staru planinu
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Hronologija destrukcije Stare planine
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Na Babinom zubu prva gondola u Srbiji
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STARA PLANINA: Kraj skijaške sezone, hotelijeri zadovoljni
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Stara planina: Više posla i pored manjka snega!
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Interview ex-director of Serbian Institute of Nature Protection
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Media Links

Video: Media Conference 4
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Video: Media Conference 2
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Video: Media Conference 3
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Project description with maps
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Video: Media Conference 1
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Document: Destruction Chronology (Serbian)
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Album: Destruction of Nature Park Stara planina
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Photos: Destruction at Babin zub
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Video: Protest
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Otvoren hotel na Staroj planini (FOTO)
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Jabucko ravniste oktobar 2010
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Other Documents

National Park Stara Planina Constructions at Stara Planina
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National Park Stara Planina under construction Construction of ski lifts at Stara Planina
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Stara Planina ski resort One of the main arguments of people opposing construction of ski infrastructure at Stara Planina was the lack of snow
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Meta Information
ContributorJovanka Spiric, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, [email protected]
Last update11/04/2016