Acknowledging that working across borders on complicated conservation challenges requires close transboundary co-ordination, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) works at several levels to foster such collaboration. One of these is the PrespaNet environmental NGO network consisting of Macedonian Ecological Society (MES) in North Macedonia, Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) in Albania and the SPP in Greece. The Prespa Project is a network project and through it the partners aims to consolidate the local presence MES and PPNEA have established in Prespa, with the SPP’s support for particular cross-border activities.
The project is organised around five distinct areas of work with overarching objectives for each programme. ‘Wetlands, Waterbirds & Climate Change’ aims to increase knowledge of the effects of climate change and help to strengthen Prespa’s resilience through biodiversity monitoring and conservation actions for key species and habitats, in the face of changing environmental circumstances. ‘Environmental Education and Outreach’, will continue harmonising the environmental information that circulates, informs and educates basin-wide through a variety of educational and communications activities, including programmes in schools and with youth clubs, teacher training, summer schools and camps, as well as bringing young researchers to study in Prespa.
‘Species Conservation’ will see the monitoring and conservation of priority species including large carnivores, bats, chamois, roe deer and otter. These activities aim build on and extend work with large mammals carried out by MES and PPNEA, while the fourth programme, ‘Freshwater Island Conservation’, is led by MES and includes research-driven monitoring of island-nesting waterbirds and an ambitious applied conservation project that will bring the critically endangered Hermann’s tortoise population on Golem Grad Island back from the brink of extinction. Lastly, a group of activities for local office management and transboundary co-ordination underlies all activities in the proposal and will ensure close co-operation between the NGOs and with regional stakeholders.