Despite their seemingly small length and significance, Prespa’s streams and river, together with their distinct riparian vegetation and habitats, are ecologically important biodiversity hotspots and a valuable source of water and life for Prespa, the lakes and their adjacent wetlands. Aiming to better understand and promote the functions and values of these waterways and riparian habitats on the Greek side of Prespa, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) is implementing the holistic wetland landscape management project “Prespa’s Green and Blue LifeLines”.
These lifelines are found in Greece along the Agios Germanos River and the five streams that feed into Lesser Prespa Lake, as well as along part of the Great Prespa Lake shore. The streams are key spawning habitats for endemic fish species and the Agios Germanos River hosts the entire Greek population of the endemic Prespa trout. In addition to their hydrological significance, riparian zones also provide habitat for many bird species, form crucial movement corridors for large mammals and are vital landscape elements.
However, riparian habitats are threatened by hydrological alterations, wildfires, non-point source pollution, logging, dumping and other unsustainable interventions, and climate change above all. Although some scientific knowledge about their role, functions and values exists, there is not yet a fully integrated picture of these habitats that could substantially contribute to improving their management. In general, the streams and river are often seen as passive water-conduits and riparian habitats as linear woodland only good for grazing, while management only takes coping with the alleged flood threat into consideration and protection measures do not take environmental and ecological parameters into account.
In ‘Prespa’s Green and Blue LifeLines’ the SPP aims to augment knowledge on these habitats and foster a higher appreciation of riparian zones with a view to their eventual wiser management, incorporating their natural and cultural values and establishing their relation to local inhabitants’ wellbeing. Moreover, it will carry out direct rehabilitation measures, as well as actions to avert threats.