Hiking Trail, Jablanica-Shebenik Mountain Ridge

The objectives of The European Nature Heritage Fund – Euronatur are to implement nature conservation and species protection projects with the aim of maintaining endangered populations of wild animals and their habitats. The work is carried out by close cooperation with local and regional partners thereby fostering cross-border cooperation of international experts.

The aim is to develop a Trans Boundary Trail on the mountain ridge between Macedonia and Albania, in an area of Europe that has suffered great hardship. This is a sustainable regional development project which is designated to become a Trans-Boundary National Park and aims to build a sustainable result that really benefits the local area (using local workers, materials, and ultimately bringing visitors to the area) whilst simultaneously protects the environment. The project will identify and mark the trail; construct new sections of the trail; restore existing sections where necessary; produce information panels and produce a map and guide in English, Albanian and Macedonian.

The Update

The trail route has been identified with the help of locals and professionals. However, due to the inherent political obstacles of a trans-boundary trail in this area, and the recent acceptance of Albania into Nato, and not Macedonia, old border grievances have been reignited, adding complications to the project.

Trails have had to be developed separately in each country, but in such a way so that they can be easily connected as soon as it is possible. As the new trails are developed, parts of the existing trails will also be restored. In total, the trans-boundary hiking trail will have a length of approximately 130 km, with 75 km on the Albanian side and 55 km on the Macedonian side.

Work has now been completed in identifying, clearing and repairing, and marking out the trail in both Albania and Macedonia.  Maps, signs and information boards have all been installed in Albania and the final ones in the Spring of 2011 in Macedonia.  Information boards give information on the geology of the area, its flora and fauna and the trail routes.   The plan is now to promote the trail locally and throughout Europe to inform trekkers about the new route, bringing guided trekking tours to the Jablanica-Shebenik mountain range.