Towards a better management of natural resources in North Macedonia

ZoomMeeting_IUCN(07.07. 2020) As part of the intensified activities for biodiversity protection through efficient management and protection of nature and natural resources, by holding an introductory virtual meeting, yesterday marked the beginning of new project activities for preparation of a Draft Plan for management of the future protected area Sharr Mountain, as well as the Study for valorization of natural values and the Draft Plan for the management of Lake Ohrid.

- Both Lake Ohrid and Sharr Mountain range are characterized by extraordinary values, especially rich biodiversity, which is important not only for us but also for Europe – said the Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Naser Nuredini in his welcoming speech, emphasizing that the Ministry is making continous efforts to ensure the integrated protection and promotion of the country’s natural heritage and is working on the development of development policies (plans, strategies and programs) to improve and harmonize national legislation with European requirements.

107709566_1109108229522555_8639499945186258459_n- I sincerely believe that the preparation of the Study for Revaluation and Management Plans of the Natural Monument Lake Ohrid, as well as the future protected area Sharr Mountain, will provide an appropriate basis for effective management of natural values in these areas, especially for the local population and in accordance with national and international legislation on nature protection – added Nuredini.

“Helping countries and communities designate and manage protected areas is one of IUCN’s main areas of expertise,” said Boris Erg, Director of IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECARO). “We are pleased to facilitate the process in North Macedonia, in close cooperation with the national authorities, local community and the civil sector. Our goal is to achieve better management of natural resources in the country by applying the highest global conservation standards,” he added.

GEF and UNEP remain to be dedicated partners, supporting the country in current and upcoming projects to address nature protection, land degradation and climate change aspects. We are doing great job, with fantastic support from MOEPP and stand ready to support the country, but we urge all relevant institutions and organizations, to collaborate and actively participate in this process” – said Sonja Gebert, GEF Coordination Specialist, UN Environment Programme, Vienna Office.

Project activities follow the ongoing commitments and activities of the MOEPP, to asses or re-evaluate the natural values of protected areas, in accordance with the Law on Nature Protection, National Strategy for Nature Protection with the Action Plan (2017-2027) and the National Biological Diversity Strategy with an Action Plan (2018-2023) and will assist in compliance with EU Bird and Habitats Directives, as well as mark the progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.

In the coming period, the activities will focus on preparing a study for valorization of Lake Ohrid that will provide a comprehensive understanding of the natural and socio-economic values of the Lake. This, together with the Sharr Mountains valorization study, which was completed in early 2020, is a good basis for developing management plans for both areas, in line with relevant national legislation, and guided by IUCN, WCPA Best Practice Protected Areas Guidelines and the results of a Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT).

The need for sustainable management of these areas is even greater if we take into account that both areas are cross-borders. Sharr Mountain range is an area with outstanding biodiversity and natural beauty, shared with Albania and Kosovo, where it has a protected status. One of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, Lake Ohrid shares the border between Albania and Northern Macedonia and hosts a unique water ecosystem. The lake is home to over 200 endemic species and has World Heritage status.

The activities that will contribute to the improvement of the management of Lake Ohrid and Sharr Mountain, are implemented within the project ” Achieving the conservation of biodiversity through the creation and efficient management of protected areas and the inclusion of biodiversity in land use planning”, funded by The Global Environment Facility (GEF), which is implemented through the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the MOEPP as the main beneficiary. IUCN will provide local support and coordination of activities, with the participation of domestic and foreign experts.

Efforts to improve the management of Lake Ohrid and Sharr Mountain will be coordinated by IUCN ECARO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of Northern Macedonia within the project “Achieving the conservation of biodiversity through the creation and effective management of protected areas and involvement of biodiversity in land use planning”, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF ) and implemented by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).