Monday, February 29, 2016

3rd Transboundary Platform Meeting for the safeguarding of the Lake Ohrid region will take place on 7 March in Pogradec

The third Transboundary Platform Meeting of the project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region” will take place on 7 March 2016. This third meeting on transboundary cooperation is part of a European Union and UNESCO initiative aiming to reinforce conservation and sustainable development through management effectiveness on both sides of the Lake Ohrid.

The third Transboundary Platform Meeting will take place in Pogradec, Albania. Representatives from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Environment, representatives from the National Agency of Protected Areas, representatives from the local governments around the lake, representatives from the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and IUCN) as well as UNESCO will get together to pursue their work in establishing a viable cooperation platform.

This Transboundary Platform Meeting aims more specifically to present and discuss opportunities in existing transboundary processes for monitoring of the environment and biodiversity which contribute to the safeguarding and the management of the Lake Ohrid region.

Home to an exceptional biodiversity reservoir of Europe, Lake Ohrid is one of the world’s oldest lakes. With remains of some of the first human settlements in Europe, the lake is also an important spiritual centre with one of the oldest Slav monasteries built in the 9th century, making it an important religious centre for the region. Natural, cultural and spiritual, the heritage of the region is truly remarkable.

The area, situated in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is inscribed on the World Heritage List as the property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region” since 1979. Today, the addition of the remaining third of the Albanian section of the lake to the World Heritage Property would greatly enhance the integrity of this protection. Transboundary Platform Meetings have been designed to facilitate management and collaboration between Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and aim among others to provide management efficiency strategies for the potential transboundary extension of this mixed World Heritage property.

The area is protected through a number of national and international measures, but unadequate water and solid waste management and illegal building activities have an impact on the integrity of the site today. More information about the Lake Ohrid region can be found at: whc.unesco.org/en/lake-ohrid-region/

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Protecting Lake Ohrid, oldest lake in South-Eastern Europe

Lake Ohrid, one of the world’s oldest lakes situated in south-eastern Europe, stands out as one of the largest reserves of biodiversity and some of the oldest human settlements in the continent. The convergence of distinctive natural values with the quality and diversity of its cultural, material and spiritual heritage makes this region truly unique.

Two-thirds of Lake Ohrid is inscribed on the World Heritage List on the Macedonian side of the lake as the mixed World Heritage property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region”. Now time has come to join our efforts and take over our responsibilities to extend World Heritage status to the remaining third of the lake located in Albania.
The project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region” has been designed to address the main factors affecting the Lake Ohrid region through identifying and safeguarding the main natural and cultural assets of the Lake and improving transboundary cooperation and management. For more see: 
Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region

The region’s efforts to balance conservation with sustainable development are laid out in the 2005 bilateral Agreement between the two countries for the Protection and Sustainable Development of Lake Ohrid and its Watershed. The project is coordinated by UNESCO in partnership with the authorities of both countries, as well as the three Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee (ICOMOS International, IUCN and ICCROM), and is financed by the European Union (EUR 1,700,000) with the co-financing by the government of Albania (EUR 170,000).

  • Overall project activities include:
  • the reinforcement of transboundary cooperation between Albania and Macedonia
  • the establishment of integrated management mechanisms;
  • and capacity building on management effectiveness.

Activities also aim to identify and safeguard cultural and natural assets, to provide technical assistance to national authorities for the preparation of a transboundary World Heritage property extension file, as well as to implement a waste awareness campaign.

Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/lake-ohrid-region

Friday, February 12, 2016

Albanian Parliament has passed a 10-year moratorium to save forests


The Albanian Parliament has passed a 10-year moratorium on chopping down trees for industry or export purposes. The law drafted by the Ministry of Environment allows local authorities to approve limited wood-cutting for heating. Albania's 1.4 million hectares (3.5 million acres) of forests have been savagely cut or burnt over the past 26 years since the fall of the communist regime, with an average of 2.5 million trees chopped down each year. Minister of Environment Lefter Koka said that this radical decision has come after measures failed to stop the loss of woodland, which has contributed to the flooding the country experienced in recent years.


Source: http://www.mjedisi.gov.al/al/newsroom/deklarata-per-shtyp/hyn-ne-fuqi-moratoriumi-ne-pyje-ne-republiken-e-shqiperise

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Key facts about the Lake Ohrid as World Heritage

1979- The Lake Ohrid is first inscribed on the World Heritage List as a natural property, under criterion (iii) on superlative natural phenomena which is today criterion (vii).
1980- The World Heritage property is extended to cultural criteria (i), (iii) and (iv) and becomes one of the first mixed World Heritage properties.

. 1998- A joint UNESCO-ICOMOS-IUCN monitoring mission is carried out for the first time since inscription. The mission highlights that economic and demographic developments pose threats to the values of the site that can only be addressed through an integrated approach and protective measures that link the cultural and the natural heritage preservation.

The state of conservation of the property is discussed by the World Heritage Bureau in 1998 in Kyoto, Japan (Decision 22 COM VII.30).

2008- At its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), the World Heritage Committee initiated the Upstream Process during a reflection on the future of the World Heritage Convention. The Upstream Process is an experimental approach aimed at reducing the number of properties that experience significant problems during the process of nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List.

2009-The World Heritage Committee approves a minor boundary modification that slightly reduces the northern and western boundaries of the property. Within this process, the Committee encourages the creation of a buffer zone as well as undertaking efforts towards a transboundary extension of the World Heritage property to include the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid.

2011 -The World Heritage Committee, in decision 35 COM 12C, selects 10 Pilot Projects to test the effectiveness of the Upstream Process, including the Pilot Project "Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region" (Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

2011 -The State Party of Albania submits "Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region" on the Tentative List as a first step in the World Heritage property extension process.

2012- Phase One of the Upstream process entails the Advisory Scoping mission to assess the feasibility of an extension for nomination to the already inscribed site. This mission identifies threats affecting natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region such as unplanned urban development, fishing and habitat alteration as well as unsustainable waste actions.

2014- Phase Two of the Pilot Project for the Upstream process initiates the project Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region.

Friday, February 5, 2016

EU and UNESCO join forces for the natural and cultural heritage of the transboundary Lake Ohrid region

"Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region" is the name of the 36-month project co-financed by the European Union and the Ministry of Environment of Albania aimed at the protection and sustainable development of the Lake Ohrid region.

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in the world, embracing numerous exceptional natural and cultural features. The region’s striving for balancing conservation with sustainable development is reflected in the bilateral Agreement for the Protection and Sustainable Development of Lake Ohrid and its Watershed ratified in 2005.

The European Union has partnered with UNESCO in this joint management project aimed at supporting the efforts of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to sustainably develop the fragile Lake Ohrid region shared between the two Governments.

The project is designed to address the main threats affecting the natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region. It is aimed at strengthening transboundary cooperation over the region’s cultural and natural heritage, helping recognize and profile the trans-boundary area by assessing its values and sustainable development opportunities, improving capacities for the effective management of natural and cultural heritage, supporting integrated management planning based on active cross-sectorial cooperation and public participation. It will have a particular focus on building lasting cross-sectoral cooperation, especially in the fields of sustainable tourism development, and awareness-raising for natural and cultural heritage protection and on the importance of appropriate waste management.

The project also aims to support the efforts of the national authorities in the framework of the World Heritage Upstream process to explore innovative approaches for the preparation of nomination files, and in particular for the extension to Albania of the World Heritage property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region”, already recognized in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979.

The duration of the project is 36 months with an overall budget of 2.64 million USD is funded by the European Union with a contribution of approximately 2.4 million USD (1.7 million EUR). The 10% co-financing Agreement between the Albanian Ministry of Environment and UNESCO is currently under preparation. The project will be carried out by UNESCO in close partnership with the Governments of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the three Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention: ICOMOS International, IUCN and ICCROM.

The source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/events/1189/