Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Collaborative management of Lake Ohrid is critical for Natural and Cultural Heritage

By Stephanie Gentle
Successful management of the Lake Ohrid region depends heavily on collaboration between diverse stakeholders and a harmonious balance of nature, culture, landscape and development. During the training on Collaborative Integrated Management of Protected and Heritage Landscapes held in April in Lin Peninsula, Albania, the stakeholders learned how to develop an integrated and cooperative approach to managing complex landscapes.

Group of experts in Lin Pogradec 
“The first success is that we now think of the lake as one whole, together with our Macedonian partners. We are now aware that we have to cooperate with our partners and protect the lake from damages that have been made until now”, said Mr. Mihallaq Qirjo, Director of the Regional Agency for Protected Areas (RAPA) for Korca region, speaking about the positive impacts the project has achieved thus far.

The training brought together more than 20 representatives from Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including the respective Ministries of Environment and Culture, protected area authorities, representatives from fisheries and tourism industries, as well as experts from ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN.

“This training assists the two countries to improve and upgrade transboundary cooperation by helping to better understand Lake Ohrid’s outstanding universal values, both natural and cultural. Cooperation between diverse stakeholders is the key to expanding the mechanisms for transboundary cooperation, strengthening the involvement of various stakeholders, and also harmonizing the actions on both sides through joint management activities,” said Mr. Oliver Avramoski, Project Officer at IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The course had a strong focus on interactive learning, with an emphasis on group work, practical exercises and field work. The training’s objectives included participants achieving a sound understanding of various mandates, rights and responsibilities that can affect complex landscapes; understanding different types of governance that can be applied to protected landscapes and the importance of collaboration and partnership; gaining experience of co-management approaches that combine nature, culture, local needs and development; and gaining new skills and understandings in consensus building, negotiation and conflict resolution. This knowledge contributes to the development of a co-management system for the Pogradec Protected Landscape and the potential transboundary World Heritage property in the Lake Ohrid region.

The training was organized as part of the joint EU UNESCO project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region”. The project seeks to reinforce transboundary cooperation between Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, establish integrated management mechanisms, increase the effectiveness of capacity building, and profile the transboundary area and its sustainable tourism opportunities. In addition, the project aims to support the efforts of national authorities in the preparation of a nomination file to extend the World Heritage property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region” to the Albanian side.

Source: 

Monday, April 18, 2016

World heritage Day- Raising awareness on Lake Ohrid

18 April is World Heritage Day. This is a special day to raise public's awareness about the importance and values of Cultural and Natural Heritages and the efforts required to protect and conserve it. Lake Ohrid region is one of the few mixed Cultural and natural properties included in World Heritage List, protected by UNESCO since 1978. Now Albania is preparing the file to inscribe the 1/3 of the Lake Ohrid into this World Heritage property.

A lot of work need to be done by local government and community itself to protect this area.

The project Towards Strengthened Governance of the Shared Transboundary Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid region, is contributing in this direction, to raise awareness of Albanian Government and community to protect Lake Ohrid Region.

In the framework of this project a photo competition on Lake Ohrid run by UNESCO and its local partners during April aiming to promote the values of this region. More than 450 photos were submitted in Facebook and Instagram through dedicated social media channels managed by an Albanian PR company contracted by UNESCO, which showed a good enthusiasm of people to share their interest, concerns, or good memories from this beautiful area. This social media competition showed that many people are willing to conserve and protect this amazing natural and cultural heritage.
This is just one of many activities foreseen in the project to raise public awareness about Universal Outstanding Values of Our lake Ohrid.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The first Newsletter "Protecting Lake Ohrid" published

The first Newsletter "Protecting Lake Ohrid" on behalf of the Project:"Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region", was published and is available in three languages: Albanian, English and Macedonian in the following website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/lake-ohrid-region/
In the first edition Spring 2016 just published, everybody can be informed about activities of this 3 year project, financed by European Union and Albanian Ministry of Environment and implemented by UNESCO.
In this issue you can read an address by Mr Lefter Koka, Minister of Environment of Republic of Albania;
- interview with Mr Eduard Kapri, Mayor of Pogradec, Albania;
- information on project progress, the next steps & important upcoming dates;
- and several thematic articles, regarding tourism in Ohrid City and Pogradec

In the next edition which will be published in Summer 2016, you can read articles about tourism in Struga city and Debarca Region, more news about the project's meeting, and also the results of Photo Contest:  http://whc.unesco.org/en/ourlakeohrid-photo-contest/ which lasted from 7 March- 7 April 2016 with hashtag #OurLakeOhrid, on Facebook and Instagram.

We hope you enjoy reading it!






Thursday, March 24, 2016

Interview with Mayor of Pogradec, Mr Kapri about the Project

Interview with the Mayor of Pogradec, Mr. Eduard Kapri to discuss the shared responsibilities and benefits of the project

Mayor of Pogradec, Mr. Eduard Kapri
What does the project: "Towards Strengthened Governance of the Shared Transboundary Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid region mean for Pogradec?

Mr. Kapri: The project started with the signing of an Agreement in 2005 between the governments of FYROM and Albania for the protection and sustainable development of Lake Ohrid and its watershed. Both governments are committed to undertaking development and spatial management plans of the area of Lake Ohrid. A steering committee of experts from the two countries are working together to define the criteria, standards, restrictions and clear objectives for the protection of Lake Ohrid region in accordance with EU standards and principles. We hope this project will contribute in this direction.

What are the concrete measures that the Municipality of Pogradec will undertake to save and protect Lake Ohrid?

Mr. Kapri: Based on the new administrative division of Albania, Pogradec Municipality is the sole local government unit responsible for the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid. Currently, our municipality is preparing a Local Action Plan (LAP) and is one of 26 municipalities to be financially and technically supported by the Government of Albania. Issues related to the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid basin as well as conservation, water quality, its flora and fauna, will be an integral part of the plan.

What is the tourism development plan for the area? Will there be constructions on the lake shore?

Mr. Kapri: We see tourism development of the area as an essential factor for economic development and support the idea of alternative tourism, in order to make our Lake Ohrid very attractive for tourists throughout the whole year. Pogradec has plenty of tourism resources, which need a new management concept, so that they can bring revenues to the local community. We are also looking at ways of cooperation over tourism with the Macedonian side. The introduction of Lake Ohrid as a joint ecosystem and having a unified tourism product will really have a positive impact on both countries and increase the number of tourists.

How do you plan to raise awareness and involve the community to save the outstanding values of Lake Ohrid ?

Mr. Kapri: Pogradec inherits a tradition and obligation to conserve and protect Lake Ohrid. Our citizens have always seen the lake as a valuable resource, and have treated it as a gift from God. A network of local environmental NGO-s was established during 1996-2004, under the Regional Environmental Centre in order to raise public awareness and participation, thus becoming a factor and a partner of the municipality in decision making for the region of Lake Ohrid. We also consider as a necessity the cross-border cooperation. Together with municipalities of Struga and Ohrid we signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Wismar and another on technical cooperation, will be signed in Ohrid. This is the only way to ensure sustainable development of the Lake, inspired by the motto "One lake, one vision, one future"

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tourism/ Ohrid City, the pearl of Balkans

Located on the shores of Lake Ohrid, the city of Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. Ohrid, the wider lake region is a prime destination for Former Yougoslav Republic of Macedonia, with the city's old quarter containing beautiful churches along a graceful hill, topped by a medieval castle overlooking the majestic 34 km-long Lake Ohrid. This is undoubtedly the most alluring attraction of the Lake Ohrid region.

Cultural Heritage
Built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries, Ohrid is home to one of the oldest Slav monasteries (St Pantelejmon) with more than 800 middle Byzantine icons dating from the 11th to the end of the 14th century. This icon collection is considered to be one the most important in the world. Ohrid comprises one of Europe's best preserved archaeological complexes with remains dating from the Bronze Age up to the Middle Ages, The city boasts unique religious architecture dating from the 7th to 19th centuries as well as urban structures showcasing a vernacular architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries. All of these present a treasure of historic, architectural, cultural and artistic values.

What to see
Ohrid's major attractions are all located within a remarkably concentrated and easily accessible area, among and above the narrow streets of the Old Town lined with restaurants and cafes perfectly suited for relaxing against the backdrop of the lake. Top attractions in the city include : Sv. Jovan Kaneo, Sv. Naum Monastery Galicica, National Park Tsar Samuel's Fortress, Saint Sophia Church, Sv Kliment Monastery, Plaoshnik Church.

What to do
Ohrid's many cafe bars and nightclubs make for a vibrant nightlife. As for the lake itself, it is so large and so deep that one might mistake it for a sea. For water sports lovers, fishing and boating are available, and numerous churches alongside the lake shores make for fascinating side trips and walks; while nature and adventure travellers can explore the National Park of Galicicia, an unspoiled wilderness ideal for nature enthusiasts. To gain a better feeling of the city, we recommend a gentle stroll along Lake Ohrid shore having a coffee, a glass of wine or a meal overlooking the lake. Ohrid and its beaches are packed from 15 July to 15 August, during the popular summer festival when it seems half of Macedonia descends on the town. The bars and restaurants are full during the summer, while June or September are much quieter enabling one to reflect next to the lake.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Albania defines the buffer zone protecting Basilica of Lin Peninsula, Pogradec

Albanian National Council for Restoration at Ministry of Culture defined the Buffer Zone for protecting cultural heritage in the area of Lin Village Pogradec.
Ruins of Paleo Christian Church
The protected area includes the ruins of Paleo-Christian Church and Mosaics, which are considered as Monuments of First Category. The Paleo Christian basilica of Lin is situated in the West Side of Lin peninsula and represents one of the most important monuments of Albanian heritage. The structure is decorated with colorful mosaics of flowers motifs, geometric and Eucharistic scenes, belonging to early Christian Period.
Archaeological excavations and numismatic records of Basilica with mosaic floor are dating back in V-VI the century.
Poly-chrome mosaics and rich archaeological material, make the Church one of the most beautiful monuments and the most interesting site in the territory of Albania.

The floor mosaics of Church
Two-thirds of Lake Ohrid is inscribed on the World Heritage List on the Macedonian side of the lake as the mixed World Heritage property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region”. Now time has come to join our efforts and take over our responsibilities to extend World Heritage status to the remaining third of the lake located in Albania.
The project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region” has been designed to address the main factors affecting the Lake Ohrid region through identifying and safeguarding the main natural and cultural assets of the Lake and improving transboundary cooperation and management.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=535532196618586&id=263081923863616

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tourism/ Pogradec, in harmony with nature

Pogradec is one of the most charming tourism destinations in Albania set on the shores of Lake Ohrid. The journey to Pogradec is always inspiring. The more you travel here, the more you become addicted to the city. Travelling over Qafe Thane, reaching the pass and begining the descent down to Lake Ohrid and the beautiful village of Lin with its magnificent scenery surrounded by hills unfolds itself like a book to the eye of the tousists. The beauty and tranquility of the lake move your soul. Once in the city, a long promenade, invites you for a long walk. Pogradec is very welcoming, and people are among the most friendly in Albania, the lake has softened their hearts.. The city was home to many of the country's famous writers and poets: Lasgush Poradeci and Mitrush Kuteli, and lately Luan Starova and painters Anastas Kostandini(Taso), Gjergji Lako, Gentian Zeka, Vangjo Vasili and Ilir Dhima.

Cultural heritage
In the west side of Lin pennisula you can visit the paleochristian church, a National Cultural Monument of Albania included within the site on the UNESCO Tentative List of Albania for the Natural and Cultural Heritage of Ohrid Region (Albania). The Illyrian Tombs of Selca e Poshtme (40km from Pogradec) is another important site to visit. The tombs rest among the remains of the ancient city of Pelion, an Illyrian settlement of the Enchele tribe and the residence of Illyrian kings. In 1996, Albania proposed the Royal tombs of Selca e Poshtme on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. Other archaeological sites include: Other churches to visit are the church of Saint Dimitri (small Orthodox church of 1154 AD) and the church of Saint Marena ( Orthodox church rebuilt in 1744).

What to see
Lin Village and its mosaic are a natural first stop on a jounrey to Pogradec. The village lies in a quiet and picturesque bay, with beautiful houses with red tiled roofs
Drilon National Park, is also an essential place to see in Pogradec with crystal clear springs that supply the beautiful channels overhung with trees and ornamental plants. This was the holiday home for the former dictator Enver Hoxha, whose villa is now a hotel and restaurant.
Tushemisht Village and its newly renovated centre is not to be missed. The blogger Yomadic refers to it as Albania's "small Venice" full of canals with clear waters emerging from the mountain that ironically is named "The Dry Mountain".

What to do
Pogradec is perfect for a relaxing holiday. Peak months are July and August, when the lakeside teems with beach lovers in the sun. Pedal boats are available, and canoeing and kayaking activities are growing in popularity.. Off season, the city goes back to its tranquility, and is ideal for walking and meditation. In winter the scenes are very panoramic, often spectacular with snow covering the mountains, set above a background of green and blue. One of the highlights of Pogradec is its delicious cuisine.