Monday, May 29, 2017

Paragliding, the Macedonia's alternative tourism

Talking about tourism in Macedonia almost always leads the conversation towards Ohrid. The Ohrid Lake and the town of Ohrid are protected by the UNESCO as a world natural and cultural heritage site – the lake was listed for its environmental value in 1979, and the town for its cultural value a year later. Therefore, it is no wonder that the Ohrid Lake is considered as the main tourist site in Macedonia. However, over the last few years, so-called alternative tourism is thriving as one of the possible areas for further economic growth. Together with hiking, biking, and ecotourism, paragliding is among the most promising areas for development of the country’s alternative tourism.

Kruševo and its paragliding opportunities were recently listed as one of Macedonia's top natural and historic treasures by National Geographic. In the top-ten list, right after the Ohrid Lake and before the painted mosque in Tetovo, Kruševo's “prime conditions for paragliding” are emphasized. The town's gifts have recently been celebrated also by the web-magazine Cross Country, a specialised publication for paragliding, praising Kruševo’s ideal environment.

“Unusually, the town sits in a natural bowl on the ridge top, so launch is an easy walk from there. The grassy take-off sits above wooded slopes that drop down to the Pelagonia plain, stretching south to the Greek border”, reads the web-magazine, adding that the best flying conditions are from June to September. In case of bad weather or family vacations, attractions for the non-flying tourists include “several museums, the Ilinden uprising monument, monasteries, and the ruins of the Roman town of Heraclea Lyncestis in the town of Bitola”.

See full article:
https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Macedonia/Krusevo-s-paragliding-wonderland-180180


Monday, May 22, 2017

Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

By Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO

Lake Ohrid biodiversity
For more than 70 years, UNESCO has been working to foster scientific knowledge and cooperation on biodiversity and ecosystems, such as tropical forests, oceans, mountains. In recent years, the effect of human activities -- magnified by population growth and global climate change -- has reduced deeply biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. We need to join forces and find new ways to protect and promote biodiversity as our shared heritage, and a condition for a sustainable future for all.  Sustainable tourism is a powerful tool to raise awareness on biodiversity and to protect it for present and future generations. This is the spirit of the Cancun Declaration, adopted at the Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Mexico in 2016, which states: “there are pathways for ensuring the long-term sustainability of tourism while also ensuring that it contributes positively to biodiversity”. UNESCO works with all its partners to explore these pathways. We have supported ecotourism guide training for young people in Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve in Brazil. In Belarus, nature-based tourism programmes have been tailored for such activities as bird watching and canoeing, in co-operation with Vosges du Nord Biosphere Reserve in France. The preservation of biodiversity is vital for human lives and ecosystems – it is also a source of green growth and decent jobs. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme, like the “Biosphere Destinations” initiative, brings green destinations, certificates and certified tourism together, showing also an employment growth rate of almost 70% in Portugal.
Prespa Lake
Through the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme, UNESCO also works to strengthen policies and frameworks that support sustainable tourism to improve natural heritage management. Recently, a number of capacity-building workshops were led in four priority natural World Heritage sites in Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Biodiversity is life. It is also a key condition for resilient ecosystems, able to adapt to a changing environment and unexpected challenges. Biodiversity is as necessary for nature and humankind as cultural diversity, to build stronger, more resilient societies, equipped with the tools they need to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow. We need to foster this culture of diversity in all its forms as a chance and a strength for all. I see this as a key condition to achieve the sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.



Biodiversiteti dhe Turizmi i qëndrueshëm
Irina Bokova, Drejtore e përgjithshme e UNESCO

Për më shumë se 70 vite, UNESCO ka punuar për të  nxitur njohjen shkencore dhe bashkëpunimin për biodiversitetin dhe ekosistemet, si pyjet tropikale, oqeanet dhe malet. Në vitet e fundit, efekti i aktiviteteve njerëzore,  plus shtimi i popullsisë dhe ndryshimet klimaterike kanë reduktuar thellësisht biodiveristetin në ekosistemet në gjithë botën. Ne duhet të bashkojmë forcat dhe të gjejmë rrugë të reja për të mbrojtur dhe promovuar biodiveristetin si trashëgimia jonë e përbashkët, dhe një kusht për të ardhme të qëndrueshme për të gjithë. Turizmi i qëndrueshëm është një mjet i fuqishëm për të rritur ndërgjegjësimin për biodiversitetin dhe për të mbrojtur atë nga brezat aktuale dhe të ardhshëm. Ky është dhe shpirti i Deklaratës së Kankunit, e miratuar në Takimin e 13-të të Konferencës për diversitetin biologjik në Meksiko në 2016 që thotë se ka rrugë që sigurojnë një qëndrueshmëri afatgjatë të turizmit ndërsa sigurojnë që ai kontribuon pozitivisht në biodiversitet. UNESCO punon më gjithe palet për të ekslploruar këto rrugë. Ne kemi mbështetur trajnimin e guidave të ekoturizmit për të rinjtë në  Rezerveen e Biosferes Mata Atlantika në Brazil. Në Bjellorusi programet e turizmit me bazë natyren përfshijnë aktiviete të tilla si vëzhgim zogjsh, apo canoeing. Ruajtja e biodiversitetit është thelbësore për jetët njerëzore dhe ekosistemet. Gjithashtu është dhe burim për rritje të hapësirave të gjelbëruara dhe për vende pune. Programi i UNESCO ‘Njeriu dhe Biosefera’,  si dhe iniciativat Destinacionet e Biosferes, kanë krijuar destinacione të gjelbra, dhe kanë rritur punësimin në më shumë se 70 % në Portugali. Përmes Programit për turizëm të qëndrueshëm të Trashëgimisë Botërore, UNESCO gjithashtu punon për të forcuar politikat dhe kornizat që mbështesin turizmin e qendrueshëm për të përmirësuar menazhimin e trashëgimisë natyrore.  

Biodiversiteti është jetë. Është kusht kryesor për ruajtjen e ekosistemeve. Është i nevojshem për natyren dhe njerëzimin si diversitet kulturor për të ndërtuar shoqëri më të forta, me vigjilente të pajisura me të gjitha mjetet për t’iu përgjigjur sfidave të sotshme dhe të së ardhmes. Ne duhet të nxisim këtë kulturë të diversitetit në të gjitha format si një shanc për të na fuqizuar të gjithëve. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Protecting Europe's last truly "wild" waterways

Cameras, kayaks, test tubes, tree saplings, and lawyers: this is how civil society is coming together to save the blue gem of the Balkans..from Lake Ohrid and Prespa, to lake Skadar, from Drini River to Vjosa. Freshwater habitats in the Balkans are unique...


By Birdlife.org


Photo of Prespa Lake: Shkelzen Rexha
As cloud forms, the first raindrop falls from the sky and splashes from a flower petal into alpine soil. Here the droplet is joined by more and is pulled downwards, beneath paw tracks of the elusive Balkan lynx and into a woodland stream, pauses for a moment in a marsh, then, gushes over smooth limestone, past dancing dragonflies and into a strong torrent that feeds into ice cold Lesser Prespa Lake, on the southern border of Macedonia, pierced by heron beaks searching for fish. The droplet has become a lake.

But the journey is not over, this is just the beginning of the Drin River Basin: the water then flows underground past white cave-dwelling creatures to ancient Lake Ohrid, crosses the border into Albania and heads northwest for hundreds of kilometres where it connects with Lake Skadar, home to the world’s largest and rarest pelican species, and widens as it reaches the Adriatic Sea at the amphibian-rich Bojana Delta on the border with Montenegro.

“It’s a living system, profoundly bound with its people”, says Thomais Vlachogianni, Programme Officer of the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE). Home to Europe’s last truly “wild” rivers, the basin of the Drin River is still a huge, untamed natural environment, and arguably one of the most important freshwater system in Europe. In MIO-ECSDE’s short documentary entitled Echoes from the Drin, subtle, yet deeply crafted natural scenes evoke the feeling that wildlife – from the unseen minutiae to the flamboyantly remarkable – humans – from the smiles of nature tourists to the livelihoods of traditional herders – and the geological and hydrological processes that form this vast river basin, are all interconnected.
  
See full article:
http://www.birdlife.org/drin-river-balkan-waterways


Monday, May 8, 2017

A guide to Saint Naum, Macedonia

Visit to Saint Naum Monastery is without a doubt great experience. It's a place where you can fully spend your day and enjoy many attractions... In addition to many fun activities and enjoying beautiful surroundings, the monastery complex is a wonderful place for relaxation, enjoyment and resting.
A blog by Traveling is Awesome
One of the nicest monastery complex in the region. It has been very crowded, even in the morning on the first day of the year. Lots of people come to visit this place through the year, because of it`s beauty and cultural heritage. Built by the St. Naum of Ohrid himself, it was established in the Bulgarian Empire in year 905. St. Naum is also buried in the church.
The Monastery of Saint Naum is an Eastern Orthodox monastery in the Republic of Macedonia, named after the medieval Saint Naum who founded it. It is situated along Lake Ohrid, 29 kilometres south of the city of Ohrid. The Lake Ohrid area, including St. Naum, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Macedonia.
From the center of Ohrid to St. Naum monastery is a short drive, about 45 minutes on narrow country road by car.  Parking is charged for the day and not to expensive.
When you enter monastery complex first you came across a park which has small shops that sell many local products like: honey, brandy, Christian icons, hand-made jewelry and famous local lake jewelry pearls and much more...Continuing our tour and walking to the monastery we came to the small bridge over the river Crn Drim (Black Drim), from where you have two amazing post card views. 
Set amidst lush verdure where the River Crn Drim tumbles into the lake, the monastery of St. Naum is a refuge of tranquility at the very southwestern corner of the Macedonian Republic. The area around St. Naum monastery is among the most beautiful along the shore of Lake Ohrid. Just before merging with the Lake Ohrid, River Crn Drim widens in a small lake. Still inside the Saint Naum Monastery complex, colorful covered motor boats sit waiting to whisk visitors over the lake to see the springs of St. Naum. The water here is fed by Lake Prespa and is astoundingly clear – at some points it is 3.5m deep and still you can see the bottom as if it were swimming right before your eyes.
The main reason to take the boat trip (other than for a bit of picturesque relaxation bobbing on the lake) is to witness the springs bubbling up from the lake bed. Because of the water clarity it's extremely easy to see. In some places calcification causes the rocks to turn white – it's quite a sight. At the end of the lake is a small chapel.
The charge for this trip is per boat, so if you wait for more people the price per person will become cheaper.

Little about the history...

The old church was built on a rock above the Lake with a wonderful view of Lake Ohrid and the surrounding mountains. Later on the church was completed with lodgings and a bell tower finishing the final look of the current monastery. The monastery lodging compartments are now adapted into a hotel. A traditional restaurant is also found on the location. Tourists from all around the world that visit Macedonia, pick this destination every year.

The original church was dedicated to the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. The church was built on this site in the 10th century as a memorial of the Slavonic educator Saint Naum of Ohrid, the disciple of Cyril and Methodius and the associate of Clement of Ohrid. The names of St. Naum and St. Clement are praised because of their creation of the Cyrillic alphabet. St. Naum was also buried in the church in the year of 910. St. Naum's monasteries of the Holy Archangels together with Clement’s monastery of St. Pantheleimon in Ohrid are the earliest known Slavonic monuments in the region of Ohrid. This represents another important religious, cultural and tour attraction in this part of Macedonia.
As with most Byzantine churches, St. Naum was chosen primarily for its location – on a high, rocky outcropping over the lake, above deep forests and life-giving springs of the river Crn Drim.
The monastery has been renewed and enlarged several times over the centuries. While most of its iconostases and frescoes date from the 16th and 17th century, earlier etchings in the Byzantine Greek vernacular also remain. But numerous orthographical mistakes indicate that they were written by Slavic-speaking local monks. Other inscriptions in the church make up some of the oldest epigraphic evidence of Slavic literacy. The icons of St. Naum are some of the best religious painting achievements in the Balkans. They date from the first half of the 18th century. The wood-carved iconostasis itself was made in 1711 by an unknown artisan.
A peculiar element of St. Naum is located not on the inside of the church but on the outside: the preponderance of multi-colored peacocks strutting around and luxuriating in the grass. They are so gracious and friendly, not scared of people at all. Posing for picture or climbing all over the place, they are like home pets.
 https://travelingawesome.blogspot.al/2017/05/saint-naum.html#more

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Heritage course, helping small business to be sustainable in Lake Ohrid Region


A three day course on "Heritage, driver for sustainable development in LakeOhrid region" took place in Pogradec, Albania from 25-27 April 2017.25 people from  two countries working and living in different areas of Lake Ohrid region participated. The training course aimed at  Increasing appreciation of shared heritage values and building awareness on the potential of heritage, both cultural and natural, as a support for sustainable development among small-scale entrepreneurs and sharing knowledge on how to build and sustain successful micro-enterprise based around the values of the area. 
Case studies and examples on how heritage can support sustainable opportunities in the Lake Ohrid Region were presented on the first day by UNESCO and its advisory bodies representatives like ICOMOS and IUCN to lead the discussion and inspire. At the end of the day participants were organized in groups, agriculture group, forestry group and fishing group and worked together  

The second day, was organized as a forum with representatives from Municipality of Pogradec, which took answers from participants related to opening a new business, knowledge about the taxes, how to be friendly with environment around Lake Ohrid. After the meeting, participants had the chance to visit some small local business. The first visit was in one of the oldest pastry 'Shop in Pogradec' producing an authentic llokum” a dessert made with corn flowers, sugar, powdered sugar, gelatin and rose flavored water. The shop dates from 1930 opened by his grandfather a former immigrant in Istanbul. The recipe is inherited in generations.  A small fair was organized near the promenade in the center of Pogradec with local food and  art-crafts. Artisan women presented their work alongside the promenade  in an open fair. Some local specialties like lakror, byrek and revani cooked by some women was served  for buffet-dinner to participants and other guests invited from Municipality and  NGO-s  acting in Pogradec.  
Mr. Avdulla Cano, Vice mayor of Pogradec Municipality congratulated the project for the series of training and work done aiming to include Albanian part of Lake Ohrid in UNESCO Heritage List, while UNESCO representative, Ms. Alexandra Fiebig thanked participants, artisans and municipality for the support.  

The next stop was in old shop of wood carving where the aged-man welcomed the group with a big smile, sitting in his chair. The three-floor house was decorated and filled with art-works in wood. It was amazing to see the walls of the mall shop full of wood carving; each one a piece of art. Mr. Llazi Icka has been carving small and large wood pieces for over 60 years in his small studio in Pogradec, southeastern Albania. His detailed carvings are worth examining closely and he does it more for passion rather than for living. For some items he couldn’t even tell the price and for some others he wouldn’t sell at all. He pointed out that his daughter and his son are both excising in this. The façade on the back was also made of wood.  
After this amazing visit the group headed to Tushemisht to visit two other small businesses; fish farm and pottery shop.  It was a nice trip for 10 participants riding bikes kindly offered by a local operator visit-pogradec.com. The ride through a nice road covered with greenery and shadowing trees was a great experience.  

On the Third day of training, each group prepared the business plan on these topics: recreation and tourism, traditional craftsmanship, Eco-environmental services and heritage enterprises/agriculture, forestry. The jury evaluated the presentation and chose as a winner one group. At the end of the training course participants received a Certificate of Attendance, organized in the framework of project "Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region" co-funded by EU and Government of Albania.