The Society for the Protection of Prespa
From as early as the 1960s, Prespa had already attracted the interest of ecologists, nature-lovers and environmental scientists because of its exceptional natural beauty and rare biodiversity.
The first coordinated effort to protect the area took place in 1990 with the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP). Some of the people who played a decisive role in its formation were the environmentalist and architect-planner, Thymios Papayannis, the internationally renowned zoologist, Dr. Luc Hoffmann, and the biologist, Dr. Giorgos Catsadorakis. Together they laid the foundation for the establishment of the SPP, with the help and support of a series of environmental non-profit organisations. The formal initiative was undertaken by the ‘Friends of Prespa’ and WWF International and so, in 1991, the Society SPP was created with the participation of ten environmental organisations.
Since 1991 the SPP has systematically and effectively contributed to the protection of natural and cultural heritage throughout the entire Prespa basin, by means of a wide range of projects jointly promoting viable development and the harmonious co-existence of man and nature. Its activities aim to secure the appropriate management of natural resources, sustainable forms of development, the protection of threatened species and the informing and awareness-raising of the public. From the beginning the SPP has understood quite clearly that to safeguard Prespa’s exceptional heritage and promote viable development in the area requires the harmonious cooperation and involvement of the three states that share the lakes - FYROM, Albania and Greece. Accordingly its efforts have been guided by this principle, aiming wherever possible to emphasise their transboundary nature.
SPP's premises in Agios Germanos and Laimos, built according to the local architectural types.
Today the SPP is an environmental organisation whose work is internationally recognised. The organisation is based in the villages of Agios Germanos and Laimos in Prespa, and its accomplishments are based on the dynamic work of its resident staff, many of whom are native to the region.
The Mission of the SPP
The SPP’s mission is to safeguard the natural and cultural heritage of the Prespa basin as a whole, for the benefit of all its inhabitants both today and in the future.
Basic principles which govern the work of the SPP:
- Transboundary activity: The protection and viable development of Prespa requires the participation and harmonious cooperation of the three states that share the area - Greece, FYROM and Albania. Consequently, issues need to be addressed from their transboundary, environmental, social and developmental aspects, and projects require development at a transboundary level.
- Cooperation between individuals and organisations: Close collaboration between the residents of Prespa and organisations at local, national and transboundary levels, fosters a mutual understanding of the issues and a common approach to viable solutions.
Areas of Activity
- Protection of biodiversity and wildlife habitats (research and monitoring, management and conservation of wetlands, protection of threatened species and habitats).
- Promotion of sustainable forms of development (promotion of sustainable rural development and environmentally friendly methods of cultivation).
- Transboundary Prespa Park (participation in the Prespa Park Co-ordination Committee and Secretariat of the Prespa Park, support for the operation of the park).
- Support for public and private organisations throughout the Prespa basin, on issues concerning the protection of natural and cultural heritage.
- Awareness-raising and informing (environmental education, establishment and operation of transboundary information centres, projects to inform and mobilise the local community).
Research and conservation measures for the protection of the Dalmatian pelican and the white pelican: Research and the implementation of management measures have led to a steady increase in the pelican populations. Today Prespa is home to the largest colony of Dalmatian pelicans in the world, with more than 1,000 pairs.
Informing/awareness-raising/publicising: Environmental education is a vital area of activity for the SPP. It implements educational programmes for schools and guided tours for the public, while also maintaining two transboundary information centres for visitors to Agios Germanos in Greece and Zagradec in Albania.
Restoration of wet meadows: The restoration of wet meadows around Lake Mikri Prespa began with an experimental three-year programme from1997 to 2000. As part of a wider Life-Nature project (2000-2006) a larger scale restoration plan was put into operation. Today wet meadow habitat covers more than 100ha, the greater part of which is managed by the SPP in collaboration with the Prespa National Park Management Body.
Protection and management of Mikri Prespa: The SPP actively participates in the safeguarding and management of the Mikri Prespa wetlands through projects for their protection and the monitoring and management of the water, lakeside vegetation and aquatic bird species in collaboration with the Prespa National Park Management Body. The majority of the projects are carried out on the basis of guidelines which were put together as part of the Life-Nature project (2000-2006).
Research, monitoring and management measures for fish populations in the lakes and rivers: The SPP systematically monitors the development of fish populations in the lakes by means of sampling research methods. In addition it has established an action plan in order to protect the endemic Prespa barbel and trout species.
Rebuilding of the sluice gate: The Koula sluice gate, which controls the flow of water from Lake Mikri Prespa to Lake Megali Prespa, was completely rebuilt as part of the Life-Nature project (2000-2006). Through the appropriate operation of the modernised sluice gate it is possible to ensure that both the ecological and human needs of the area are adequately satisfied.
Promotion of organic and environmentally friendly agriculture: In 1992 the SPP began promoting organic bean cultivation in Prespa, advising producers on issues of cultivation and certification. In 2009 a project to create a ‘Product of the Prespa Park Protected Area’ label was completed.
Promotion of sustainable rural development and protection of architectural heritage: In 2005 the SPP carried out a ‘Plan for Open City Land Use and Town Planning’ study, which was presented as a donation to the Municipality of Prespa. The SPP has also published two guidebooks concerning the correct restoration of Prespa’s traditional buildings (1993-1994).
Establishment and operation of the Transboundary Prespa Park: Since the foundation of the Transboundary Prespa Park the SPP has contributed to its activities as a member of the Coordination Committee and has participated in the work of the Park Secretariat. The SPP has implemented a variety of projects in collaboration with the relevant bodies from the three countries as part of efforts to improve cooperation between the states which share the Prespa basin. In 2005 a Strategic Action Plan was completed, the first trilateral study in Prespa, which specified the measures and processes that were necessary for the integrated management of the area. In 2006 the SPP completed a project entitled ‘Study of the interactions between Lake Mikri Prespa and the Devolli River (Greece-Albania),’ while since 2007 it has undertaken a study for the development of a transboundary system for monitoring ecological parameters in the Prespa basin. Environmental monitoring, at a transboundary level, is a necessary prerequisite for the protection of the natural environment and the sound management of natural resources, particularly water.
Support for the Prespa National Park Management Body: The Management Body was founded in 2003 and its main objective is the protection of the natural and cultural heritage of Prespa. In this context the PNPMB is the authority responsible for wetland management, the protection and safeguarding of the area from illegal activities which burden the natural environment such as sand extraction or hunting, and the informing and awareness-raising of Prespa’s citizens. Since the establishment of the PNPMB, the SPP has not only participated as a member of its board of directors but has also actively contributed to its work through the sharing of its many years of experience in the area of wetland management and by means of the education of its staff.
International honorary distinctions won by the SPP
The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award (1999): “The activities of the SPP provide an outstanding example of a pioneer approach to wetland management and cooperation at local, national and international levels for the sustainable management of a Ramsar site”.
The Goldman Prize (2001, awarded to two leading conservationists of the SPP): This was international recognition for their excellent contribution to the conservation of the Prespa wetlands and eventually helped lead to the establishment of the Transboundary Prespa Park.
LIFE - Nature “Best of the Best” award (2009): The LIFE-Nature project “Conservation of Priority Bird Species in Lake Mikri Prespa, Greece”, implemented by the SPP in 2002-2007, has been evaluated by the E.U. Member States as one of the five “Best of the best” of such projects completed in Europe in 2007-8.
International Riverprize finalist (2012): SPP was among the 4 finalists of the Thiess International Riverprize, awarded by the International River Foundation in Australia. SPP entered the prize with the project “Restoration of wet meadows for the conservation of Lake Mikri Prespa”.
Resources and Administration
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR 1 JULY 2012 - 30 JUNE 2013
During the 2013 financial year (1st July 2012 – 30th June 2013), SPP's income totaled 769.976,00€. As shown in the diagram below, income from foundations amounted to 95%, income from governmental aid agencies 3%, from private companies and other sources 2%.
Financial year 01/07/2012 - 30/06/2013
Total Income 769.976,00 €
Total expenses for the 2013 financial year (1st July 2012 – 30th June 2013), totaled to the amount of 915.444,00 of which, 89% was for conservation projects and the remaining 11% for administration and fundraising. Analytically as is shown in the diagram below, research and conservation management expenses constituted 61%, conservation policy expenses 15%, information and awareness-raising 12% , finance and administration 9% and fundraising 3%.
Financial year 01/07/2012 - 30/06/2013
Total Expenses 915.444,00 €
Please read the SPP's latest balance sheet
Please read the audit report for 2009
Please read the audit report for 2010
Please read the audit report for 2011
Please read the audit report for 2012
Please read the audit report for 2013
The Donors who have contributed more than 2% of SPP's annual income are the following:
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