A new information centre for visitors to the Kuklica monument of nature was opened today by the EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar and the UNDP Resident Representative Narine Sahakyan.
The remarkable rock formations at Kuklica – the result of millions of years of erosion - have long been a major attraction in the region of Kratovo and beyond. The site has fallen into neglect in recent decades, however, and major interventions have been needed to ensure more sustainable management of the site.
The 64,000 EUR project for the protection and promotion of Kuklica is part of a larger EUR 4 million programme to improve the management of the country’s protected areas. The programme is funded by the EU and is being implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
The new Info Centre has been designed and constructed in accordance with EU standards, respecting the character of the site and promoting sustainable tourism, as well as providing local employment opportunities. The wooden building includes a gallery displaying information about the site, a space for the sale of souvenirs and promotional material, as well as a study area and a room for hosting scientific and other public events.
In addition to the Info Centre, the project has supported the installation of new walkways, trails and observation points at Kuklica. These will ensure access for visitors while conserving the natural environment and preserving the monument of nature. To improve drainage at the site and minimise damage from torrential rains and other atmospheric influences, the project also cleaned and reconstructed the water channels.
Opening the new Centre, EU Ambassador Samuel Zbogar declared that “I have two messages. One is for the authorities: to be proud also means to be responsible. Responsible to nature and to the natural beauties that we must preserve for future generations. Ohrid is a pearl that is in genuine danger. I appeal for the pride not to turn to shame. My second message is for the citizens – Here, in Kuklica, we partnered with UNDP, the municipality and civil society to help reconstruct and protect this monument of nature and bring more tourists. But on our way here we saw many plastic bottles thrown around. That’s why I appeal to the citizens to keep nature clean.”
UNDP’s Resident Representative Narine Sahakyan outlined the key principles and aims of the Kuklica project and the wider conservation programme. “Protecting biodiversity and improving the management of protected areas requires commitment, innovative approaches and transformative processes,“ she said. “The project that we are promoting is designed to help trigger transformational change in the way the country manages its natural resources by creating replicable examples that demonstrate the social and economic benefits that derive from protecting natural resources.”
The refurbished site is expected to be visited by some 30,000 domestic and foreign visitors each year, including schoolchildren, students, scientists, tourists, cultural workers and representatives of environmental organizations.
“Kuklica is of great importance for Kratovo,” said Ljupco Bojadziev, the Mayor of the Municipality of Kratovo. “But it is also important for the whole country as shared monument of nature. With this project we will give an example of how to care for our natural and cultural heritage.”