Sister Park Agreement Signing Ceremony Remarks

Ambassador Kyle Scott
June 12, 2017, Belgrade

Minister Nedimović, Director Karaklić, Superintendent Noble, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests – I am very pleased to be a part of this important event commemorating the Sister Park Agreement between National Parks in Serbia and the United States.

Tara National Park is a cultural and natural treasure.  The love of nature is shared by both the Serbian and American peoples.  In fact, last year, the U.S. National Park Service celebrated 100 years of preserving the ecological and historical integrity of our country’s natural treasures. Some have called the creation of the National Parks system “America’s best idea.”  All told, we have 59 national parks which protect over 200,000 km2 of America’s most pristine wilderness and natural beauty – all together a territory that is more than twice the total land size of all of Serbia.

Tara National Park and Black Canyon National Park are a good pairing.  They have similar features, similar forest conditions, and face many similar challenges including conservation of the environment despite infestations of destructive insect species. Through this agreement, Tara National Park and Black Canyon National Park will have committed to a five-year Sister Park arrangement to assist each other in preserving these wonderful testaments of nature.

A lot of work goes into managing a national park, and the men and women who do this work need sophisticated skills in order to preserve the parks’ pristine natural beauty while also making them accessible and available to visitors.  The dedicated professionals who manage these gifts of nature deserve our support and appreciation.

The agreement signed today covers cooperation on a range of topics, such as natural resource management, restoration of wetlands and forests, control of alien species, monitoring air and water quality, environmental education programs, youth camp design and management, recreation and ecotourism management, public-private partnerships, and website development.

Superintendent Noble will be spending a lot of time with Director Karaklić and his team over the course of this week to develop more detailed plans for specific cooperation over the coming years.  I hope that this will be the first of many exchanges, and that it will lay the foundations for building an ever-stronger partnership.

The best thing we as private citizens can do to our national parks, forests and wilderness areas is to visit them, enjoy their natural beauty and recreational opportunities, and then leave them as clean or cleaner than when we found them, and to teach our children the importance of preserving these treasures for future generations.  The United States is proud to be working together with Serbia to support these goals.