Sar Mountain National Park

Emma Levy, Communication Design

National Park documents the people and landscape of the Šar Mountain national park, one of the most ecologically diverse natural environments in the region, if not in Europe. After sustained ethnic conflict throughout its complex history, and most recently as part of the Yugoslav War of the nineties, Kosovo as a landscape has suffered greatly and the ecological management of the region is facing a series of difficulties, the root cause of which is in unresolved ethnic tension and a lack of expertise after the war. While the people of Kosovo clash over the rights to the landscape, the physical ecology continues to degenerate with the threat of pollution, illegal logging and over development.

My project explores the relationship of the people and the landscape – the idea of ‘possessing’ physical topology in a post-conflict society and how this continues to shape the identity of the people both in Kosovo and the wider region. It concerns the issues of history and reconciliation in an increasingly volatile environment, and how unsustainable practices can contribute to the current political flux.

Kosovo is a small country that contains some of the most ecologically rich habitats in Europe, and its contentious history and geopolitical position make it a unique space to visually explore the effects of human activity on the natural environment. Photography has an ability to document but its disputed claim to objectivity makes it an ideal tool to communicate the contrasting narrative of this contested region. Issues that concern wealthier countries are often ignored due to the tensions that still exist between the ethnic groups who control the different provinces, and after the war, economic development takes precedence over environmental sustainability. This project aims to explore these different schisms, and question the role effective environmental management and sustainability can play in reconciliation and a shared responsibility towards the environment.

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