In the 1970s the biggest part of the catchment basin was legally protected as a National Forest, while Lesser Prespa Lake was a designated Ramsar site. The operation of the park was the responsibility of the forestry service, but there was no operational management plan and in general reconciling nature conservation and rural development was problematic, often leading to conflicts and animosity.
Later, in 2009, the protection status of Greek Prespa changed, when it was declared a National Park, incorporating two NATURA 2000 sites declared in the 1990s. The public sector Management Body for the Prespa National Forest (later the Management Body for the Prespa National Park, or MBPNP) had already been established in 2003, with a multi-stakeholder board, and was assigned responsibility for the new protected area. Until the MBPNP was abolished and replaced with a new system of Management Units in 2022, the SPP sat on its board as a representative of environmental NGOs.
During the years of its operation the SPP strived to support the MBPNP in fulfilling its scientific and management role, despite a variety of legal, administrative, operational, institutional and funding problems. The Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) provided administrative, organisational and scientific support and hosted the MBPNP board’s meetings and various forms of training to the management body staff, as well as scientific and technical support for the management of the wetland and other technical issues.
Working in collaboration with the municipality and all concerned local stakeholders, the SPP’s support helped the management body to establish and run an innovative institutional and management scheme, the Wetland Management Committee, while wardening implemented by the management body has been largely effective in keeping down illegal activities. Meanwhile, a Management Plan for the Prespa National Park was completed by the MBPNP, following environmental monitoring studies on species and habitats protected by the respective EU Directives, and approved by the board in 2011.
In February 2022, the administration and management of protected areas in Greece changed and a new system was established of management units, under the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (NECCA). The Prespa National Park is now under the management of the Management Unit for the Prespes National Park and Protected Areas of Western Macedonia.
2003 to date