National and regional story (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) - The Prespa Regional Project: Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Prespa Lakes Basin
The Prespa Regional Project – the Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Prespa Lakes Basin of Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece’ (2006-2011) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministries of Environment from the three neighbouring states – seeks to catalyse the adoption of integrated ecosystem management in the transboundary Prespa Lakes basin to conserve globally significant biodiversity, mitigate pollution of the transboundary lakes, and provide a sustainable basis for the basin’s further social and economic development through a range of approaches.
One of the main objectives of the project is to establish land- and water-use management as a basis for maintaining and restoring ecosystem health in the transboundary Prespa Lakes basin. The project is working towards the establishment of transboundary watershed management through a working group that will facilitate this process of joint watershed management and environmental governance.
In addition, the project is supporting the development of an ecosystem-oriented watershed management plan for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s part of the basin (MK-Prespa) in accordance with the Law on Waters. As the largest proportion of the Lake basin area and population is located in Macedonian Prespa, it is clear that effective, ecosystem-friendly water management in MK-Prespa is central to maintaining the ecosystem health of the entire basin. Maximum efforts will be made so that the MK-Prespa watershed management plan takes into consideration the water and land-use management aspects in the other two co-basin states.
This project also aims to strengthen the conservation of significant biological diversity through improved monitoring, targeted research and enabling protected areas to serve as effective refuges for biodiversity. Thus, the project has launched an extensive initiative for the identification of priority species and habitats of transboundary importance and will undertake measures for their conservation.
Furthermore the project is working on the establishment of a transboundary monitoring system for the entire Prespa Lakes basin, designed through active participation of all relevant parties from the three neighbouring states.
The project is attempting to influence the stakeholders to modify their current resource management practices, such as transboundary fisheries management. National fisheries management plans should take regional aspects into consideration, in addition to improved information exchange systems and other elements required for joint management of the Lake’s fish stock, especially with respect to endemic and native fish species.
The project is updating the strategic vision for the Prespa Lakes basin and Strategic Action Programme (SAP) by applying Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) as a tool for achieving this goal.
As the Prespa Lakes basin is shared by three countries at different levels of development and political conditions, joint management approaches and mechanisms are required to ensure wise use of resources within the basin and sustainable development. Thus, the project is contributing significantly to transboundary cooperation amongst the co-basin states, working on strengthening the Prespa Park Coordination Committee (PPCC) and, together with the governments, is working towards establishment of a joint management solution.
The transboundary component is also working towards development of a joint ecotourism and visitors strategy for the region.