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17th February 2017: 14th February 2017: A historic day for transboundary Prespa

22 September 2016: The Juniper Forests captured the interest of the “students” of the two summer schools, implemented this summer in Prespa

13th September 2016: 100 wetlands and 7 countries in 1 afternoon – the 1st Pelican census covering all of SE Europe and Turkey

15 February 2016: Our life in a wetland! Primary school students from across the transboundary Prespa basin show us what the wetland looks like through their eyes

8 October 2015: Walk in the forests of Prespa with your phone aw a guide!

23 July 2015: United by pelicans

9 February 2015: "Karagiozis, the protector of Prespa!"

2 February 2015, World Wetlands Day: I'ts time for ratification of the Agreement on the transboundary Prespa Park

21 January 2015: Second Dalmatian pelican falls victim to illegal hunting in the Evros Delta

15 April 2014: The Society for the Protection of Prespa is the “Best of the Best” once again!

21 March 2014: The re-introduction of animal husbandry as a conservation measure for the Grecian juniper woods of Prespa

31 January 2014: Prespa Park: at the crossroads of sustainability

3 July 2013: The very first nationwide Pelican Census in Greece!

3 April 2013: Striving to enhance the natural values of the Prespa region, for biodiversity and people, through joint actions across borders

1 February 2013: Prespa Park 2000-2013: time to take new initiatives

10 December 2012: Manual for the protection of fish and fisheries in Prespa

9 October 2012: The thrilling journey of migration!

9 August 2012: Only Greece is now delaying implementation of the International Prespa Park Agreement

The cooperation of the countries of SE Europe is imperative for the protection of the pelicans

8 May 2012: Transboundary Prespa puts fish and fisheries centre stage

3 February 2012: The Society for the Protection of Prespa is celebrating World Wetlands Day with events in Thessaloniki and across the borders in Prespa

23 January 2012: Environmental organisations denounce out-of-control illegal hunting in the Prespa National Park

6 October 2011: With a seal of approval from the European Union, the International Agreement for the Prespa Park is now in the hands of the three states that share the Prespa basin

15 April 2011: Learn all you need to know about keeping the treasures of the lakes safe from harm

2 February 2011: Ratification of International Agreement for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Prespa Park still pending one year after

21 May 2010: Prespes: An ecosystem that still resists

2 February 2010: The three countries and the European Commission commit to cooperate for the protection and the sustainable development of the Prespa Basin

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Friday 15 December 2017, 19:25

31st January 2014: Prespa Park: at the crossroads of sustainability Print E-mail

World Wetlands Day, 2nd February 2014, and four challenges for the future of Prespa



Prespa is a Wetland of International Importance in all of the three countries which share the lakes and an area of global scientific importance. It stands at a crossroads in 2014, between a business-as-usual approach that is jeopardizing its transboundary waters and wetlands, and the path to sustainability and a clean, healthy freshwater ecosystem.

Four main issues are at stake in Prespa: the protection and management of water resources; transboundary cooperation; the protection of its sensitive smaller wetlands; and climate change and adaptation.

1. Water is the beating heart of Prespa. The quality of this water is threatened by the process of eutrophication – a build-up of nutrients in the water. Moreover, the state of Prespa’s waters may influence the waters down to the Adriatic Sea, since Prespa connects downstream to Lake Ohrid, the Black Drin River and Shkodra Lake, before finally reaching the coast. Hence water management needs to be planned and implemented on a regional scale, with the active involvement of all concerned stakeholders and citizens, in all littoral countries. Although national water management plans for the Prespa basin have been prepared, with the exception of Albania, transboundary and regional coordination with an integrated river basin management approach – as required by international and EU standards - is still lacking.

2. Transboundary cooperation between the three countries sharing the Prespa Lakes started 14 years ago with the establishment of the Transboundary Prespa Park – the first cross-border protected area in the Balkans. This initiative, which has been lauded by the international community as brave and innovative, has stalled in the last four years due to the refusal of the Greek state to ratify the international Agreement that it signed in 2010 together with the other two littoral countries and the EU. The future of cross border cooperation in the Transboundary Prespa Park now lies in the hands of its local stakeholders, as well as of the international community that is keenly interested in the protection of the natural environment of the wider river basin.

3. The wetlands of Prespa include not just the two lakes, Great and Lesser Prespa, but also a string of small sensitive sites which are also legally protected: the Ezerani nature park, the Stenje Marsh, and the Vromolimni Ponds, as well as reedbeds, wet meadows and streams throughout the transboundary basin. These wetlands provide ecosystem services that are essential to human welfare and economies such as clean water and protection from floods and erosion, as well as being habitats for fish and water birds. These cannot be offset by the short-term and myopic economic benefits sought by developers which compromise these services, notably draining wetlands and allowing tourist development or hydropower plants.

4. Climate change is a challenge for the future – although it might be nearer than we think. The Prespa Lakes are two large water bodies and as such they have a moderating effect on the climate of the surrounding land as well as blessing them with ample water resources. The adaptation of people and nature to climate change will require the protection of the lakes, their sensitive land-water interface, and the whole catchment basin, which can only take place with the co-operation and collaboration of all the people sharing this priceless resource.

PrespaNet, the network of environmental NGOs for Prespa that was founded 12 months ago, is taking the opportunity offered by World Wetlands Day to highlight these four challenges and to promote the path to a sustainable Prespa. The three NGOs, MES, PPNEA and SPP, state that: Prespa is a unique area, with a wealth of natural and cultural values, a history of harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, and a good record of environmental protection and cooperation over recent years. The collaborating environmental organisations fully support and are encouraged by the quest of the people of Prespa to build a common, better tomorrow through both sustainable development and the conservation of the wetlands and overall natural wealth of their region.

For more information:
Svetlana Pejovic, MES Communications Officer
(e: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; t: 00389-224-02773)
Marianna Vlassi, SPP Communications officer
(e: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; t: 0030-6947692357)
Olsi Nika, PPNEA Communications Officer
(e: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; t: 00355-422-56257)

Editor’s notes

  1. The Prespa basin is situated in the south Balkans and is shared by three countries. The basin is home to two lakes, Lesser and Great Prespa, which lie at an altitude of around 853m, although many of the surrounding peaks are more than 2000m above sea level.
  2. The 2nd February (World Wetlands Day of the Ramsar Convention) has always been an important date for the Prespa Lakes: The Prespa Park was established on 2nd February 2000 with a joint Declaration by the Prime Ministers of the three countries. The Park aims to protect the ecological values of the area through collaboration between the three states, and also to promote the economic prosperity of the local communities in the three countries. The Transboundary Prespa Park is the first transboundary protected area in the Balkans. The ‘International Agreement for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Prespa Park’ was signed on 2nd February 2010 by the 3 Ministers of Environment and the EU Commissioner for the Environment. It provides for transboundary institutions to manage and regulate the Park, the most key of which are the Prespa Park Management Committee (which monitors and coordinates activities to be implemented under the Agreement); the Secretariat (a subsidiary technical and administrative body); and a Water Management Working Group (composed of competent bodies from the 3 states to propose recommendations to the PPMC on integrated river basin management in line with the EU’s Water Framework Directive).
  3. The NGO Network consists of: MES (Macedonian Ecological Society) based in Skopje; the SPP (the Society for the Protection of Prespa), based in Agios Germanos, Prespa; and PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of the Natural Environment in Albania) based in Tirana.




 

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