Action: LAG is taking off

Total Croatia News

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Manuela Anticevic and Ivo Dubokovic leading the LAG meeting. Photo Vivian Grisogono

The Local Action Group is swinging into action to make the wonderful islands of Hvar and Vis even better!

LAG stands for ‘Local Action Group’, and is the title of a series of such groups set up around Croatia to help put forward and implement projects to improve the quality of life in their areas of operation. These groups have been formed under the aegis of the LEADER Gateway, which is part of the European Commission’s ‘European Network for Rural Development (ENRD)’. LEADER stands for ‘Liaisons Entre Actions de Développement de l´Économie Rurale’ (‘Links Between Actions for Developing Rural Economy’). While the main title of the initiative is in French, the English explanation of how the process works has its own quirk: the ‘bottom-up approach’, which is rather open to humorous interpretation.

However, the work of the LAGs is serious. Hvar’s Local Action Group was formed in 2011 as an ‘Udruga’ (Society or Association) and was initially envisaged to cover just Hvar Island. However, there are advantages to having a more extensive grouping, and a year after its initial formation, the Hvar LAG joined forces with the main towns of Vis, Komiža and Vis Town, to form a combined unit called LAG “Škoji” (‘škoji’ means ‘Islands’ in dialect), covering both Hvar and Vis.

The first task of the LAG is to create a document setting out the Local Development Strategy which can be applied to its area of influence. Needs have to be identified, alongside measures to fulfil those needs through promoting an integrated approach between the relevant sectors (public, civil and private), and revitalizing organizations in order to strengthen the rural economy. The development aims for the forthcoming year 2014 are as follows:

1. To develop the identity of the LAG “Škoji”, also the culture of cooperation and inter-sector networking.

2. To develop a network for protecting the area’s cultural, historical and natural heritage and sites within the framework of NATURA 2000 (the main element in the EU’s policy for nature and biodiversity).

3. To develop competitive, market-orientated agricultural and business sectors.

4. To develop comprehensive and recognizable tourism products to include existing capacities and elements alongside the development of new features, making use of all available resources.

In a meeting held in the Town Loggia in Hvar Town today, these aims were set out by Mrs Manuela Antičević from Vis, Adviser to the LAG “Škoji”. The meeting was chaired by LAG President Ivo Duboković from Jelsa, and attended by nearly thirty LAG members and supporters, including Nikša Peronja, Mayor of Jelsa, and Rino Budrović, Mayor of Hvar. The LAG’s official leader, Adela Golub, was on hand to answer questions and clarify the activities to date. LAG “Škoji” had some 88 members up to the meeting, and today voted in a few more applicants. There is a certain amount of finance in the bank. The immediate need is to decide on where the Association will have its official base, and this was a matter of some discussion. Certain projects are already under way, and office space is available for the LAG, so the practical work which has begun can continue unimpeded.

It was particularly pleasing to see the cooperation between the two mayors, who both made valuable contributions to the discussions. There are major plans to fill the gaps in Hvar’s provision of environmentally friendly facilities, including through providing and encouraging the use of energy from renewable sources, as we have reported recently.

The Loggia was filled with bright uplifting sunshine, and the meeting was admirably well run. Modern technology has certainly increased efficiency in communications. Mrs Antičević was making full use of her tablet-with-keyboard for reference and making notes. When a disputed question came up, smartphones were immediately put to work to find the answer from the internet. The meeting was informative, with an excellent level of participation. At any hint that it was descending into a free-for-all, as so many Croatian meetings do, chairman Ivo Duboković called for order gently but firmly, and was respected by all.

Leaving the meeting, it was a delight to enjoy the details of the island’s wondrous beauty on the journey home. There were bright clusters of dates on the palms.

The pine processionary moths have suddenly been busy making their finely spun nests. They are not popular with the locals, who often try to destroy the nests mercilessly. The caterpillars fight back, causing a particularly painful type of skin irritation when touched, which seems to me yet another reason for leaving them alone. I am always pleased to see these superbly crafted shelters. Last year, they were noticeably scarce, especially on the north side of the island, and even on the south side they appeared late in the winter. This year they are plentiful, and have come on the right side of Christmas.

And, as ever, the Adriatic was glowing and shimmering in the clear light, with the dramatic contrast of the craggy hills rising up behind. Such natural perfection deserves our strongest efforts to preserve and cherish it, and LAG “Škoji” is providing much-needed leadership in the right direction. 


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