About BNN

A professional expert network for experts working in nature conservation and education for sustainable development (ESD) in the Balkan region and adjecent countries

Vibrant network of professionals – uniting for one cause: A thriving nature in the Balkan region and adjacent countries!
We are conservationists, protected area managers, biologists, ecologists, foresters, planners, project managers, and many other experts from currently 12 different countries in the Balkan region and adjacent countries.
Working in nature conservation and/or environmental education in the wider Balkan region can be frustrating and tiring at times: instable political situations, missing data and expertise, illegal activities and a general lack of awareness for environmental issues; to name some of the problems. The countries in the region are in different stages of development, but what we experience is, that our problems are quite similar and the solutions to these problems could be as well.
We share a similar background, because of our historical past. We share similar natural assets, because of our geological past. We should share our knowledge and experiences, for our future.

A simple thought. You are facing difficulties with the management of a protected area due to a lack of understanding in the local population and/or the local government? How about asking colleagues from other countries in the region, how they approached a similar challenge?
You need to update your data on endangered species, but there is no specialist in your country for – let’s say – butterflies. How about finding one in a different country?
We want to built strong cooperation in the region, share our experience and knowledge, help and learn from each other. We are self-governed, independent and everything we do is based on voluntary commitment.
We strongly believe: Borders do not matter. Nature does.

Join our vibrant community
You are an expert in nature conservation and/or environmental education and you work in the wider Balkan area? You have a specific problem? You are a looking for a specialist on a certain topic? You are looking for partners for new projects? You are looking for us! Check out our membership benefits and register for a membership here. In case you were wondering, there is no membership fee.
Our network is completely based on the commitment of the members. All information, knowledge, contacts and discussions come directly from all of us. In our internal member section there are multiple ways to communicate, engage and network:

  • - you can search for specialists via the member profiles;
  • - you can start a discussion on a specific topic in our forum;
  • - you can upload documents and debate them with others in our news section;
  • - you can post articles;
  • - you can work on documents together with other members using our internal communication tool, etc.

Vibrate, active, fast and all in one platform.

BalkaNatureNet – A short history
The core group of our network emerged of a training programme, called NatuRegio. It was conducted by a German organization (Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation) and funded by several foundations (German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S., Heidehof Foundation, Michael Otto Foundation). Purpose of this training was transnational experience exchange between different countries from Southeast Europe and learning about nature conservation in Germany. This training programme ended and the idea of continuing and strengthening the transnational contacts between the alumni emerged.

From February 2016 until July 2017 the Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation coordinated the initiation process of BalkaNatureNet, also funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), the Alfred Toepfer Foundation F.V.S. and the Heidehof Foundation.
Together with roughly 25 alumni and external experts – the founding members – the basis for this network were developed.
In April 2017 BalkaNatureNet was founded during the first network meeting “BalkaNatureNet – Forum” in Tirana, Albania. BalkaNatureNet will adapt and evolve during its first year and in the future. Being the vibrant network, we all want it to be.

How we are organised
We are a vibrant open community. A network of experts in nature conservation and/or environmental education working in the Balkan region and adjacent countries. We are independent, self-governed and everything we do is based on voluntary work.
Our team consists of our members – every member has the opportunity to be engaged in the network management! 
Even thought we are a vibrant community, our work is based on a simple structure, so we can ensure that BalkaNatureNet is functioning and growing. Our concept is to divide all the work on many shoulders, so everyone involved can keep his/her enthusiasm and doesn’t get drowned in work.

Management Board
Six positions form the management board of BalkaNatureNet. These positions are currently filled by 9 members – some positions being a job share:
Network Management Coordinator
Membership Coordinator
Communication Coordinator
Website Coordinator
Actions & Projects Coordinator
Funding Coordinator
Each coordinator is responsible for the respective work field and coordinates a working group. The Network Management Coordinator is furthermore responsible for the coordination of the management board. BalkaNatureNet does not have a president or boss. Decisions are made by the members or the coordinators depending on the impact.
There are also six working groups, in which members fulfill certain tasks and roles. The size of the working groups differs, from currently 2 to 8 members per group.

Advisory Board
This body has only, as the name reveals, an advisory character. Advisers are external experts, no members of BalkaNatureNet. People, who are interested in the network activities, have expertise in nature conservation and the target region and/or in network management. The management board can contact the advisers and vice versa to discuss certain topics. Advisers have no decision power.

Where we operate?
We are experts coming from and/or working in the Balkan countries and adjacent countries. How did we come up with this wordy and complicated definition?
Our focus is “the Balkans”, but there are quite a few different definitions of what “the Balkans” actually is. You can look at it from a geographical, ethnical and political angle and in different parts of the world different definitions exists on top of that…As we live by “Borders do not matter. Nature does.”, we didn’t want to waist time and energy to come up with the best definition of countries. We didn’t want to exclude our fellow experts coming from countries with very similar problems, but their might not fit any definition of the term “Balkans”. Therefore we decided to stick with a longer description and we are not going to provide an exact list of countries. Anyone wanting to become part of BalkaNatureNet and has a good reasoning is welcome. Of course our strength as a community is our similar background and experiences, therefore experts from, let’s say, Finland will most likely not become a member.