About the partners

Velebit Association Kuterevo (VUK) has been one of the main drivers of keeping alive Kuterevo spirit, a spirit of a village in the Velebit mountain in Croatia, which is home to talanted and skillful craftsmen, strong and nature-bound people and orphan bears.

Kuterevo spirit inspired the idea to make stronger and more evident the already existing invisible bonds between the mountains of the Balkans – Velebit, Sharr, Pirin and Frushka gora. Our partners from GAIA (Kosovo), Four Paws Kosovo, Vlahi Nature School (Bulgaria) and Birds Protection and Study Society of Serbia will be hosting short and long-term volunteers until 2020. Below you can read a little bit about the organizations’ work. If you want to learn more about their volunteer projects, you should go to the Places page.

Velebit Association Kuterevo


Velebit Association Kuterevo (in Croatian: Velebitska udruga Kuterevo, VUK) is a local non‐governmental organization that was founded in 1995 and works on preservation of natural and cultural heritage in the region. The main activities of the organization are the care of resident bears and the bear facilities within the Bear Refuge, informative and educational work with visitors and running the Volunteers’ Station.

The Bear Refuge was founded in 2002 as a local initiative supported by experts in the field of nature conservation. Its mission is to provide a refuge for orphaned bear cubs, to protect the bear’ habitat and to promote sustainable lifestyles and living traditions of the local mountains community which have coexisted with bears and wilderness for centuries. More about the refuge, the village and its Spirit you can explore here.




GAIA is the organization dedicated to culture of peace, social justice, sustainable development and respect of environment. GAIA is also promoting cultural diversity and works on education and integration of marginalized and minority groups in society. The main activities of GAIA are coordination of volunteer exchange, organization of non-formal educational programs, cooperation with other local and international organizations, organization of festivals, promotion of volunteering, intercultural understanding and solidarity in the region of Balkans and promotion of freedom of movement and youth mobility.

GAIA is developing 4 programs in Gracanica, Bozevce, Mitrovica and Brezovica, Sharr mountain. More about the mountain and the activities of GAIA in Sharr you can find here.

Four Paws Kosovo (Bear Sanctuary Prishtina)


FOUR PAWS Kosovo (one of the offices of FOUR PAWS International) has been established in December 2012 as a foundation for animal protection. Its mission is to help responsible authorities to protect mistreated animals, particularly brown bears. We are also focused on education for animal welfare and environmental protection with the aim to facilitate citizens to take action for solving environmental issues.

To rescue brown bears which were kept in small cages outside restaurants, we have established BEAR SANCTUARY Prishtina which includes construction of the building and the safety fences with shepherd wire, pools, water supplies and other equipment in an area of 10 ha. More about the Sanctuary you can read here.

Vlahi Nature School


Vlahi Nature School is a small educational project based on the principles of permaculture. It is located in a remote village at the foot of Pirin mountain (UNESCO World Heritage) where only several people live permanently but nature is spectacular, the landscape is dramatic and the people are resilient.

We started the project in 2002 when we bought the old building of the school and with the help of hundreds of volunteers we restored it to become again a functioning place for learning through doing, experimenting, collecting information from the local people and implementing ideas from around the world. Through volunteer weekends, summer camps for children, workcamps and by our presence in the region we share our knowledge, skills and know-how with anyone who cares for a life in balance with nature.

Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia


BPSSS is the leading organization for bird conservation in Serbia and it is the official BirdLife International affiliate. The organization is operating since 1989 and in those many years of work, many members have contributed to the organization’s collective vast knowledge on birds and nature, and experience in nature conservation. BPSSS has done research work, conservation actions and in the last few years increasingly deals with advocacy and campaigning for the preservation of nature.

Our primary task is bird protection. Each species has its ecologically irreplaceable place in its habitat in nature. Human activities (especially in Vojvodina such as: agricultural development, forestry, infrastructure and water management) resulted in huge habitat loss for wildlife, thus the possibility for their existence is greatly reduced. Our members have the skills, knowledge, ability and a will to, with directed field work, help to improve the status of every bird species and enlarge possibilties of its survival. More about the activities of BPSSS in Frushka gora – here.

Besides partners who will be hosting volunteers, for developing new ideas and qualitative activities organizations from around Europe will be helping out. The list includes: CVS-Bulgaria, Gruner Grasshalm Germany, ASPEA Portugal, SCI Catalunya, SCI Italy, Zavod Voluntariat Slovenia and others.

If anyone is interested and wants to join activities, can contact us at kuterevo.evs@gmail.com.