Restoration of the Valjevac pasture results in biomass and the first local honey vending machine

June 26, 2024

Sremska Mitrovica, June 25, 2024 - On the initiative of the City of Sremska Mitrovica, the Srem Regional Development Agency, in cooperation with the Environmental Movement and the Beekeepers Association "Jovan Živanović" from Sremska Mitrovica, restored the Valjevac pasture, the very heart of the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve managed by the Environmental Movement, thus enabling the sustainable production of the famous Zasavica honey. This activity is supported by the European Union as part of the project "EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia".

The protected area was initially improved by removing invasive shrub and tree species. The wood biomass collected from the pasture was used to produce compressed wood bricks, which are distributed to socially vulnerable groups.

"Our goal was to restore the Valjevac pasture to its original, environmentally friendly state, preserving smaller groups of acacia bushes, as they are the source of the highest quality pollen. In this way, we bring the beekeepers back to this area with their bees and hives," said Milan Mirić, head of the Srem Regional Development Agency.

As part of this initiative, the Beekeepers Association “Jovan Živanović” has also set up the first local honey vending machine in the Sremska Mitrovica Tourist Information Centre, which sells Zasavica honey—made from the pollen of the aforementioned acacia bushes—directly and without intermediaries. 

The Valjevac pasture is one of the most valuable parts of the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve, which is known for its remarkable biodiversity. The reduction in cattle numbers and consequently cattle grazing has allowed the spread of invasive weeds, shrubs and trees, resulting in parts of the pasture becoming disorganised and completely inaccessible. The project has helped to improve the situation in this protected area through biodiversity spatial planning and the introduction of an environmentally friendly form of food production, honey. The purchase of the briquetting machine, which compresses the collected biomass into wood bricks as an environmentally friendly fuel, and the honey vending machine was co-financed by the European Union.

"This project shows that we can incorporate the principles of social responsibility into the activities implemented in the local community, as all the wood bricks produced will be distributed to socially vulnerable households in Sremska Mitrovica for winter heating", said Petar Samardžić, Deputy Mayor of Sremska Mitrovica. "The use of wood bricks as fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to climate protection and makes the city of Sremska Mitrovica a healthier place to live", Samardžić added. 

Katarina Sajc, portfolio manager at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Serbia, said that this project enables the sustainable production of food such as honey in otherwise inaccessible parts of the nature reserve. "In addition, the project shows how to put circular economy into practise and make appropriate use of available local resources such as biomass", Sajc added. 

The project "Development of environmentally friendly honey production near the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve" is being implemented with financial support from the European Union as part of the "EU for the Green Agenda in Serbia" initiative.  This initiative, with the technical and financial support of the European Union and in partnership with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, is implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden and the European Investment Bank (EIB), with additional funding from the Governments of Sweden, Switzerland and Serbia.