Our Story

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest lake in Europe. It is shared between Albania and North Macedonia and is part of World Heritage List, protected by UNESCO. This page aims to protect this property through different projects. The first project was "Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region", co-funded by European Union and Albanian Ministry of Environment and implemented by UNESCO.
The actual project is titted: Evidence based campaign on protecting Lake Ohrid", implemented by DMO ALBANIA and supported by Co-Plan, through scheme: Financial Support to third parties in the framework of EU-Funded project: ENV.Net Factoring the environment portfolio for WB and Turkey in the EU Policy Agenda, financed by European UNION.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Snail of Ohrid

Gocea ohridana is a snail found in only one location in the world—Lake Ohrid.

The whole population lives under stones in an area not bigger than 10 km2 at a depth of down to 3 m. Globally classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the main threats this snail faces include deforestation of the neighbouring areas that lead to erosion and an increased sediment load, stressing its ability to filter water.

Pollution from sewage from the settlements around the lake and agriculture in the Prespa Lakes basin, which drains into Lake Ohrid through underground connections, is another major threat to this species. The good news, however, is that the Macedonian part of Lake Ohrid is protected as a World Heritage Site.

The Albanian side is currently under national protection, while an international effort is under way to extend the existing World Heritage Property to cover the whole region of the lake.
Story by: Altina Ismaili and IUCN

Gocea ohridana është një kërmill që gjendet vetëm në një vend të botës, në Liqenin e Ohrit. Gjithë popullsia e tyre jeton nën gurë në një zonë jo më të madhe se 10 km2 ne një thellësi deri në 3 m. Globalisht klasifikohet si mjaft e rrezikuar në listën e kuqe të IUCN për speciet e kërcënuara. Kërcënimi më i madh me të cilën përballet ky kërmill është shpyllëzimi në zonat e afërta, që cojnë në erozion dhe një rritje të ngarkesës së sendimenteve që pengojnë aftësinë e tij për ta filtruar ujin.

Ndotja nga ujërat e zeza që derdhen në liqen është një tjetër kërcënim për këto specie.
Lajmi i mirë është se sidoqoftë pjesa maqedonase e liqenit është e mbrojtur si trashëgimi botërore. Pjesa shqiptare është aktualisht nën mbrojtje kombëtar ndërsa një përpjekje ndërkombëtare po realizohet për ta shtrirë pasurinë aktuale botërore dhe për ta mbuluar gjithë rajonin e liqenit.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Why you should visit Ohrid in winter

When tourists are gone and winter is in the air, Ohrid becomes again the picturesque lakeside town that has enchanted visitors since the Byzantine Empire.
Actually, it is one of the 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are on both the Cultural and the Natural lists.
But I can’t help thinking about the time when I was on the other side of the lake, on the Albanian shore

The two experiences could not be more different: the touristy, postcard-perfect Macedonian outline of the Ottoman houses and the rough, neglected jumble of concrete on the Albanian side.
Anyone who has visited both sides of Ohrid Lake knows that these two landscapes are not a just lake, but a whole world apart.

By Giulia Blocal
The Ottoman houses on the shore of the lake are veiled in the morning mist, as if they were white ghosts against a blanket of white. This enveloping whiteness hovers over the wooden boats scattered around the lake and swallows the crown of houses ranged around it. Nevertheless, I know how beautiful the view is, having seen countless postcard-perfect pictures of this UNESCO-listed lake, which is one of the oldest in the world.
Ohrid in winter
When tourists are gone and winter is in the air, Ohrid becomes again the picturesque lakeside town that has enchanted visitors since the Byzantine Empire.The pale light of the sun reflects on deserted cobbled streets, and this glowing fog melts in time with the footfalls of the few people wandering around. The ancient stones drenched with rain emanate a wet, winterish smell, which –here and there- is abruptly interrupted by the warm smell of oven-baked bureks. 
The churches are scented with incense. Ohrid is well-known for its churches, which were 365 originally –one for each day of the year- a feature which won it the epithet of ‘the Jerusalem of the Balkans‘.
Ohrid’s churches, as well as its architecture, span more than two millennia, but this is just one of the reasons why this enchanting city is recognized by UNESCO. Actually, it is one of the 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are on both the Cultural and the Natural lists.

I didn’t stumble upon any celebrations inside Ohrid’s churches. Rather, I always found a profound silence only occasionally interrupted by footsteps tiptoeing on the marble floorings: a solemn atmosphere I bet you can only find during this time of the year, when the town becomes quiet and idyllic again.

Unlike with my usual ‘travel-style’, I visited a lot of churches when in Ohrid, starting off with an ambitious plan in the early morning, but then slowly adopting a more Balkan approach as the day passed by. 
This implied Turkish coffees, Skopsko beers, some meaty snacks and the ubiquitous Ohrid trout, which is the protagonist of the traditional cuisine of the area and the only thing that the Macedonian shore has in common with the Albanian side across the lake.The area is also well-known for its centuries-old tradition of wine making. Macedonians love to drink, and Ohrid’s porches overlooking the lake are the perfect place to do it. During the summer, all these lakeside cafés are bustling, but now the paved promenade is empty and everything looks more authentic.

Even the accordion player at a fancy restaurant goes for Tose Proeski’s very Macedonian songs rather than the international repertoire of the summer. When the music stops, the only sound I can hear is the rhythmic percussion of waves on sand.
As I watch them coming and going, I can’t help thinking about the time when I was on the other side of the lake, on the Albanian shore. The two experiences could not be more different: the touristy, postcard-perfect Macedonian outline of the Ottoman houses and the rough, neglected jumble of concrete on the Albanian side.
Anyone who has visited both sides of Ohrid Lake knows that these two landscapes are not a just lake, but a whole world apart.

Original source:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lake Ohrid withdrew drastically - what happened?

The level of Lake Ohrid decreased in January under the minimum of allowing quota determined by experts in the field. Its depth decreased by 23 centimeters in Albanian side of the Lake. The consequences of this phenomenon are serious for Lake Ohrid ecosystem and repair from this damage requires time, not to mention that could be irreversible.
Environment experts in Pogradec urgently raised the concern for this issue, because the decreased level in Albanian side of the Lake is more obvious than in Macedonian side. It was estimated that in Tushemisht the water receded up to 40 meters from the shores, and the depth of water decreased to 1.3 meter in this area.
According to Albanian local authorities, the cause for this problem is the uncontrolled water release in the Black Drin, opening the gates in Struga by Macedonian Authorities, without respecting the technical limits of water levels for the lake.  the lake withdrew drastically, due to

After raising this concern, the Authorities in Macedonia closed the gates at the level of 90%, thus preventing further degradation and damages on flora and fauna in Albanian side of the lake.
This issue was raised and supported by non-governmental organizations and civil societies in both countries. The problem was also discussed in the 5th Transboundary Meeting on Safeguarding Lake Ohrid, held in Pogradec in 9-10 February, where representatives from respective ministries and institutions on both countries participated.
Albania and FYR Macedonia sharing Lake Ohrid are in continuing communications and consultations in order to prevent such problems in the future. In the joint meeting in Pogradec, both countries agreed to reactivate the bilateral structures which are created in the framework of transboundary agreements and conventions signed by both countries for protection and sustainable development of Lake Ohrid basin. They agreed for the necessity of regular bilateral meetings to these structures as well.

Bie niveli i Liqenit të Ohrit në Pogradec, çfarë ka ndodhur?

Niveli i liqenit të Ohrit gjate muajit Janar pesoi nje renie drastike te nivelit te tij, duke e kaluar edhe te ashtuquajturin “minimumin” e kuotes se lejuar te percaktuar nga ekspertet e fushes, e cila arriti ne fund te ketij muaji ne masen -23 centimetra. Pasojat e ketij fenomeni jane te renda per kete ekosistem dhe koha per riparimin e demit qe i shkaktohet ekosistemit eshte mjaft e gjate per te mos thene e pamundur. Per keto arsye ekspertët mjedisore në Pogradec ngritën me shqetësim këtë cështje, pasi kjo rënia e nivelit të ujit ne pjesen shqiptare ishte me e dukshme sidomos ne zonen nga Pogradeci ne Tushemisht ku uji ishte tërhequr deri ne 40 metër dhe ulje te nivelit te liqenit arriti deri ne 1.3 metër.

Sipas pales shqiptare, shkaktar për këtë situatë është hapja pa kriter e portave të Liqenit në Strugë duke mosrespektuar kete element teknik te percaktuar per nivelin e ujrave te liqenit nga ana e institucioneve pergjegjese ne Maqedoni. Eshte fakt qe pas shqetësimit të Autoriteteve shqiptare në Pogradec, te cilet u bene present edhe ne mediat maqedone, keto institucione reaguan duke mbyllur portat në masen 90%, duke bere te mundur parandalimin e degradimit te metejshem te flores dhe faunes ne zonen litorale te liqenit. Por duhet te theksohet qe kthimi i liqenit ne kuotat normale do te kerkoje kohe.
Ngjarja pati jehonë në dy anët e liqenit, kryesisht nga organizatat joqeveritare. Cështja u ngrit dhe gjatë takimit të 5-te të platformës ndërkufitare të Lqienit të Ohrit që u mbajt në Pogradec javën e shkuar, ku të pranishëm ishin përfaqësues të institucioneve qendrore dhe locale të te dy vendeve.
Dy vendet jane ne komunikim të vazhdueshëm që kjo ngjarje të mos ndodhë më, dhe u shtrua si domosdoshmeri krijimi apo riaktivizimit i strukturave bilaterale qe jane rrjedhoje e marrëveshjeve ndërkufitare apo konvetave nderkufiatre te nenshkruara nga te dy vendet per mbrojtjen dhe zhvillimin e qendrueshem te basenit te liqenit te Ohrit, si dhe domosdoshmerine e takimeve bilaterale te ketyre strukturave.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Greece to ratify the protection of Prespa Park

Environment and Energy Minister Sokratis Famellos has tabled a bill in parliament that would ratify the International Agreement on the Protection and Sustainable Development of Prespa Park in northern Greece.

The bill would continue to protect the park as a natural resource.
Prespa Park (PP), is the first transboundary protected area in the Balkans, and was established on February 2, 2000, World Wetlands Day, with a joint declaration by the Prime Ministers of Greece, Albania and FYROM, following a proposal from the Society for the Protection of Prespa and the WWF.

The news was welcomed by the municipality of Prespa and various environmental organizations and local protection groups such as the Managing Body of Prespa National Park, the Company for the Protection of Prespa, WWF Hellas, the Greek Ornithological Society, the Nature Protection Society, the Environment and Cultural Heritage Company, and the Goulandris Museum of Natural History.

The organizations urged lawmakers from all parties to approve the bill, as it was approved unanimously in the parliaments of other neighboring European countries.

“Prespa Park is the first cross-border nature reserve in the Balkans. For all of us, the future of the Prespa region means the cooperation and bridging of the gaps for a peaceful coexistence, maintaining the precious natural environment and sustainable development. In this direction, the implementation of the agreement will be catalytic,” the organizations said in a joint statement.

Source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/02/04/environment-ministry-tables-bill-ratifying-protection-of-prespa-park/#sthash.dSEqq901.dpuf

Ministri i Mjedisit dhe i Energjise ne Greqi, Sokratis Famellos ka derguar nje projektligj ne parlament qe do te ratifikoje Marreveshjen Nderkombetare per Mbrojtjen e Zhvillimit te Qendrueshem te Parkut te Prespes ne veri te Greqise. Ky projektligj do te vazhdoje te mbroje Parkun si nje burim natyror
Prespa par eshte e para zone e mbrojtur nderkufitare ne Ballkan, e cila u krijua ne 2 Shkurt 2000, ne Diten Boterore te Ligatinave, me nje deklarate te perbashket nga Kryeministrat e Greqise, Shqiperise dhe Maqedonise pas propozimit te Shoqates per Mbrojtjen e Prespes dhe WWF.
Ky lajm u mireprit  nga bashkia e Prespes dhe disa organizata mjedisore dhe grupe lokale si Bordi Menaxhues i Parkut Nacional te Prespes, Kompania per Mbrojtjen e Prespes, WWF Hellas, Shoqata Greke Ornithologjike, Shoqata per mbrojtjen e Natyres etj
Organizatat i kane bere thirrje ligjvenesve te te gjitha partive ta miratojne ligjin, i cili eshte miratuar unanimisht ne vendet e tjera fqinje.
Prespa park eshte rezerva e pare nderkufitare natyrore ne Ballkan. Per te gjithe ne e ardhmja e rajonit te Prespes, nenkupton bashkepunim dhe vendosjen e urave per nje bashkejetese paqesore, per ruajtjen e mjedisit te cmuar natyror dhe per zhvillimin e qendrueshem. Ne kete drejtim zbatimi i marreveshjes do jete thelbesor", thane organizatat ne nje deklarate te perbashket. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Waterbird Census in Albania: 160 000 birds in total, 16 074 in Lake Ohrid Region

The International Waterbird Census results estimate a presence of more than 160.000 birds in wetlands of Albania, represented by more than 65 waterbird species. From these about 16 074 birds are situated in Lake Ohrid region, Albanian side. This figure shows the improved situation with biodiversity in Lake Ohrid region, since there were 6000-7000 birds more than previous year. If we can see the table below, the number of birds is shown for each area from Lin to Tushemisht border.

 The yearly Waterbird Census was done on 14 and 15 January in Albania by 12 national and international experts, on behalf of Birdlife International. Supported by the EU funded project NaturAL, this was a great opportunity for the rangers to learn more about the management of natural resources within and around the protected areas they safeguard.
All offices of Regional Administration for Protected Areas were involved participating as counters or observers in the Census, and providing logistical support to participants. 
As a preparation for the Census, one day training was delivered by Dr Spase Shumka, Dr Taulant Bino and Mjrian Topi to the rangers on 12 January respectively in Pogradec, Kune-Vain, and Orikum.

The Census covered 18 selected sites and its findings will be made available to the public and the scientific community through the BioNNA database. These results will guide the Ministry of Environment and National Agency for Protected Areas in their work on the formulation of policies and strategies for conservation of nature and biodiversity, and protection of the ecosystem services.

Wetlands are the most important habitats for migratory birds. Each species contributes to the global biodiversity and consequently to the ecosystem services that nature provides to all living beings. Joining this international initiative, Albania once again confirms its important role for the protection of global biodiversity. The efforts put in place jointly by the Regional Administration of Protected Areas and the National Inspectorate are fundamental to ensure the safe journey of the migrant species, their existence and contribution to the ecosystem balances.

Contribution: Gani Bego
Source: http://www.natura.al/news.php?lang=en&uid=24

Monday, January 23, 2017

World Wetlands Day- how can we help?

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat provides outreach materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

Prespa wetland 
Healthy wetlands can reduce the damage caused by disasters and make recovery faster. Yet worldwide, wetlands are in alarming retreat; at least 64% of them have disappeared since 1900.

So how can we help?

• Find out how the wetlands in your area are being used or overused - and who depends on them. How do wetlands protect your area during extreme events?
• Adopt practices that ensure long- term sustainability of the local wetlands for everyone. Measures might include controlling illegal fishing and dumping, no –take rules, set catch limits and regulate the type of activities by season.
• Clear rubbish from wetlands, and unblock streams and rivers.

Policy-makers Governments can include wetlands in their strategy for coping with disasters. Possible measures:
• Designate wetlands in flood- and storm-prone zones as protected areas.
• Restore degraded wetlands that act as protective barriers.
• Work with local stake holders and civil society to promote sustainable agriculture, fisheries and tourism.
• Adopt cross sectoral policies especially in agriculture and water to help protect wetlands.

• Organize or join a wetland clean-up.
• Become a Wetland Ambassador advocate for wetlands.
• Use water more sparingly and avoid toxic products that drain into wetlands.
• Participate in actions to conserve and restore wetlands.


Si t'i mbrojmë ligatinat

Dita botërore e Ligatinave (tokave me uje) festohet cdo 2 shkurt. Kjo ditë shënon dhe datën e miratimit të konventës së ligatinave në 2 shkurt 1971 në qytetin Iranian Ramsar në brigjet e Detit Kaspik. Që nga 1997, Sekretariati i Ramsarit shpërndan materiale që ndihmojnë në rritjen e ndërgjegjësimit publik për rëndësinë dhe vlerat e ligatinave, ose tokat me ujë.
Ligatinat e sigurta mund të reduktojnë dëmet që shkaktohen nga katastrofat dhe mund të ndikojnë në rimëkëmbjen e shpejtë pas tyre. Në gjithë ligatinat janë të rrezikuara, të paktën 64% e tyre janë zhdukur që nga 1990

Si mund të ndihmojmë të gjithë për t'i mbrojtur ato?


Të zbulojnë cilat janë ligatinat në zonat e tyre, si përdoren dhe cfarë varet nga ato. Si ligatinat mund të ndihmojnë zonën tuaj nga eventet ekstreme
Adoptoni praktikat që garantojnë një qendrueshmëri afatgjatë të ligatinave për këdo. Masa mund të përfshijnë kontrolle të peshkimit të paligjshëm apo hedhjen e mbeturinave, Ndermerrni aksione sipas sezoneve
Pastroni plehrat dhe clironi rrjedhat e ujit dhe lumenjve

Duhet te bëjnë strategji për të përballuar katastrofat
Masat e tyre duhet të përfshijnë: Dizenjoni tokat që mund të përmbyten apo tokat që preken nga stuhite si zona të mbrojtura
Restauroni ligatinat e degraduara që veprojnë si barrier protective
Punoni me grupet e interest lokalë apo shoqërinë civile për të promovuar bujqësinë e qendrueshme, turizmin dhe peshkimin.
Adoptoni politika ndërsektoriale në bujqësi dhe ceshtjen e ujit për të mbrojtur ligatinat

Organizoni fushata pastrami të ligatinave
Behuni ambassador të ligatinave për ti mbrojtur
Përdoreni ujin me kursim dhe shmangni produktet toksike që derdhen në ligatina
Merrni pjesë në aksione për ti rigjallëruar ligatinat


Monday, January 16, 2017

Vevcani Carnival - a 1400 year old tradition

Vevcani Carnival is celebrated every year for more than 1400 years. It is held every year on 13 and 14 January (on the eve and the first day of the New Year, according to the old calendar).
Carnival is a mix of pagan and modern way of celebration. The main characteristics of the carnival are: archaism, secretiveness, and improvisation.

The village of Vevčani is situated in the southwestern range at the foot of the Jablanica mountain range. It is 800 – 950 metres above sea level. The village is located 14 km North-West of the town of Struga, close to Lake Ohrid region. Carnival is one of the most important festive day in the area. According to some sources, the tradition of the Vevcani Carnival is dedicated to St. Basil the Great, a Christian saint and bishop from Asia Minor, who is considered the founder of the monastic tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Vevcani from morning of this festive day, turned into a kind of theater without borders. First participants backstage them dressed and shaped masks, far from the public eye, designed and made weeks before. Then all the participants go on streets with their masks and perform their imaginary scenarios like real actors.

 Vevcani Carnival as a collection of "archaic, mystery and unique masks, but the most traditional masks are: "groom and bride," "Stupid August" and musicians. Carnival can regularly see the masks and costumes that satirizes everyday political events in the country and in the world. Vevcani Carnival is considered also an outdoor theater. It engages all residents of the municipality, and residents open doors of their homes to guests with traditional specialties and good wine.

Under cloudless skies, hundreds of Vevcani citizens and curious guests from Ohrid, Struga, Macedonia and abroad, walked for nearly two hours in a parade, with the masks that this time was an image of the actual situation in Macedonia and the world.

Source: http://www.dw.com/mk/