We work to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Prespa, protecting its rich biodiversity and landscape, side by side with the people who live here.

Guided by scientific knowledge and many years of experience in protecting the area, we strive to limit the effects of climate change and modern lifestyles on the natural environment of Prespa and promote sustainable ways to create a favourable future for generations to come.

We work across borders and see the region as a single place with natural and cultural wealth of unique value. Because of its global significance people from all over the world are interested in preserving the unique heritage of Prespa, we join forces with them and the local community in our efforts, as well as with many academic, institutional, scientific and NGO partners.

Habitats & Landscapes

Conserving this mosaic of different habitat types is considered an important part of the SPP’s work, particularly the restoration of juniper forests and promotion of grazing as a means of managing specific types of habitats. The SPP also supports research work in the region and shares its scientific knowledge on this vital aspect of Prespa’s biodiversity.

The flora of Prespa was extensively studied by Georgios Pavlidis, who left behind a large scientific heritage. In the years that followed, these first records formed the basis for further research and in 2020 the SPP published the “Flora and Vegetation of the Prespa National Park, Greece”, edited by Professors Arne Strid, Erwin Bergmeier and Giorgos Fotiadis, including all known vegetation types and plant species recorded in the Prespa National Park in Greece.

In 1997 the SPP brought a small herd of buffalo to Prespa to help solve this problem and later, aided by local stockbreeders, began experimental reedbed management and wet meadow restoration at Lesser Prespa through grazing and mowing, as well as monitoring waterbirds and vegetation changes. A sluice gate was subsequently installed so that the water level, one of the most critical factors affecting vegetation, could be managed by the park authorities. The result of these efforts was that wet meadows tripled from 35 ha in 2000 to 100 ha in 2007.

In 2008 a Wetland Management Committee of all the stakeholders involved in the wetland was set up, which has successfully worked together to decide wetland related issues for the best part of two decades. Stockbreeders have continued to mow and collect wet meadow vegetation for fodder and though the buffalo herd was eventually removed from the area grazing continued at a lower intensity with cattle and sheep. More recently, due to reduced water inflows, mainly because of climate change, the lake water level has not risen sufficiently for wet meadows, shrinking waterbird feeding grounds. So the SPP has begun using amphibious machinery to create an extensive mosaic of managed and unmanaged surfaces, making ideal places for waterbird nesting and feeding, as well as fish spawning, and bringing economic benefits for the community of Prespa from the by-products of vegetation management. In addition, we have also expanded our work across the whole wetland landscape to include Prespa’s vitally important streams and riparian zones in our conservation efforts.

A preliminary study in 2012 confirmed that the lakes are facing water quality degradation, mainly due to excessive nutrients causing a phenomenon known as eutrophication, which can significantly affect the functions of the Prespa ecosystem and have negative effects for both biodiversity and human activities. As the flow of water is not limited by borders, we promote integrated river basin management, as adopted in the EU water legislation, and co-operation between the countries that share the Prespa basin.

Under the International Agreement on the Prespa Park the three sides have committed to work together in a Working Group on Water Management to exchange information, strengthen cross-border dialogue and undertake joint initiatives. In a region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, the SPP seeks better management of water resources in collaboration with the administration, local authorities, farmers and other NGOs at national and transboundary level and the participation of stakeholders in water governance. In recent years the SPP has also supported a network of scientists involved in monitoring Prespa waters under their respective national systems to discuss their methods and results, aiming to harmonise water monitoring across the basin.

In Prespa there are already clear indications of the effect of climate change, with observations of phenomena such as the reduction of water levels and increasing eutrophication, but also effects on the breeding success of birds.

The SPP has been collaborating with the National Observatory of Athens to study the effects of climate change in Prespa, assessing the vulnerability of Lesser Prespa Lake to climate change and proposing management measures to adapt the lake ecosystem to these risks, as well as estimating future drought and fire risks and setting up an integrated system to warn against such risks. 

Potential threats range from reedbed fires to the spread of invasive fish species, from illegal activities of many kinds to outbreaks of diseases affecting wildlife such as avian influenza. Major infrastructure or development projects can also have negative effects on Prespa’s landscape, habitats and species, as may renewable energy installations, such as wind parks that can threaten bats, raptors and pelicans in particular.

In recognition of the importance of Prespa’s habitats, the SPP completed a two-year study on the Natura 2000 habitat types to be found in the Prespa National Park in 2010 to2011. Under the study, an amazing 49 different habitat types, with 29 important and 7 priority habitat types (according to ANNEX I of the Habitats Directive) were identified in Greek Prespa, as well as their importance and the threats that each habitat faced in detail, focusing on specific proposals for conservation for several forest and pastoral habitats. The study has since formed a crucial and robust basis for the SPP’s lobbying and advocacy work with regard to habitats, and was partially updated for shoreline habitats in 2021.

In addition, as a comprehensive overview of the vegetation associations and communities at transboundary basin level had been lacking, a synthesis study of the ecologically important shoreline wetland habitats at transboundary level in all three countries was also produced under a PrespaNet project in 2021.This integrated targeted transboundary survey of all the plant communities recorded in the lakeshore and inner waters of Prespa Lakes, including the conservation degree of these habitats, the pressures and threats they face and proposals for their appropriate management, has been of great importance, particularly in light of the fact that the Prespa region is acknowledged to be an important wetland, and much of the basin protected by the Ramsar convention.