Monday, June 19, 2017

Activities on Lake Ohrid Day, 21 june 2017

Credits: @ArdianFezollari 
Lake Ohrid is unique, and has its special day. This day is 21th of June and is celebrated every year from the Municipalities of Pogradec, Ohrid and Struga. The decision for declaring this day- as the Lake Ohrid Day, was taken 17 years ago in February 2000 by the Joint Lake Ohrid Management Board.This year is the Municipality of Pogradec organizing the activities on this day. It is become a tradition that each of three Municipalities around lake Ohrid (Ohrid, Struga and Pogradec) organize the joint celebration by rotation.
On this day, the Municipality of Pogradec will also open the Tourist Season for this year. The activities headed by the Mayor of Pogradec Mr, Eduard Kapri will start on 9.00 AM and will last in the late hours of evening.
It will be a tour in several places from Lin to Pogradec. The activities are starting in the City Square, where a special program is dedicated for children, with clowns, face painting, animated dancing, games, and other entertainment.
It continues at City's Odeon with the official celebration of this day, where three Mayors of Pogradec, Ohrid, Struga will hold a speech on this occasion.
A culinary festival as always is part of activities. There will be some air-sports activities, with aeronautic demonstration in the sky of the City.
Sports activities also include: Cyclic ride from Lin to the Lake's bridge; Swimmers competition at 150 meters; Water Sports: beach volley, football/youth academy, kung fu Pogradec etc
An exhibition and Artisan Fair is planned after midday in the Park, where everyone can see and buy some artworks made by Pogradeci artisans.
For the lovers of photography, will be a special event. The well known photographer Ardian Fezollari opens at Art Gallery the exhibition "The days of Pogradec', at 19.00h.
In the evening, everyone can enjoy poetry performance and music in the City Square.
It will be also a symbolic closing ceremony by the Mayor Kapri at 21.00h in a festive atmosphere


Liqeni i Ohrit është unik dhe ndaj ka një ditë speciale kushtuar atij. 21 Qershori ëshë Dita e Liqenit të Ohrit dhe festohet nga bashkia e Pogradecit, Ohrit dhe Strugës. Vendimi për ta deklaruar këtë  ditë si “Dita e Liqenit të Ohrit” është marrë para 17 vitesh në Shkurt të vitit 2000 nga Bordi i Përbashkët Menaxhues i Liqenit të Ohrit.
Në këtë ditë Bashkia e Pogradecit do të hapë sezonin turistik për këtë vit. Aktivitetet do të drejtohen nga kryetari i Bashkisë së Pogradecit, Z. Eduard Kapri, të cilat do të nisin që në orën 9:00 të mëngjesit deri në orët e vona të mbrëmjes.
Do të zhvillohet dhe një tur në disa zona nga Lin në Pogradec. Aktivitetet do të fillojnë në qendrën e qytetit, ku një program i veçantë është dedikuar fëmijëve, me shfaqje me klloun, vallëzime të animuara, vizatime në fytyrë, lojëra dhe argëtime të tjera.
Aktivitetet do të vazhdojnë në Odeonin e Qytetit me festimet zyrtare të kësaj dite, ku tre kryetarët e bashkive të Pogradecit, Ohrit dhe Strugës do të mbajnë një fjalim për këtë ditë.
Festival ii kulinarisë do të jetë pjesë e aktiviteteve si gjithmonë.  Do të ketë sporte ajrore, me shfaqje aeronautike në qiellin e qytetit të Pogradecit.
Aktivitete sportive të tjera sportive do të jenë: shëtitje me biçikleta nga Lini deri në urën e Liqenit, konkursi i notarëve deri në 150 metra, sporte ujore, volejboll në plazh, futboll, kung-fu etj.
Në mesditë është planifikuar ekspozita e artizanëve që do të mbahet në park, ku të gjithë mund të shohin dhe të blejnë vepra nga artizanët e Pogradecit.
Për të apasionuarit pas fotografisë, do të ketë një event të veçantë. Fotografi i mirënjohur, Ardian Fezollari hap ekspozitën “Ditët e Pogradecit”, në orën 7 të pasdites.
Në darkë, kushdo mund të shijoj recitime dhe muzikë në qendrën e qytetit.
Në orën 21:00 do të jetë mbyllja simbolike e eventit nga kryebashkiaku Kapri në një atmosferë festive.

Monday, June 12, 2017

UNESCO mission recommends halting the construction projects of the Galičica ski resort

From 9 to 14 April 2017, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the World Heritage property of Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The report with findings from this mission is available at

The mission discussed with the authorities the overall state of conservation of the property and provided technical assistance on the scope and development of a SEA, which should comprehensively assess the potential individual and cumulative impacts of all above-mentioned projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

The 2017 mission concluded that some of the proposals for large-scale infrastructure and construction projects, such as sub-sections (a) and (e) of the A3 road and the Galičica ski resort within the property could lead to irreversible changes to the property, in combination with the developments and transformations that have already occurred in the urban settlements and lakeshore since its inscription. The mission strongly recommended to completely abandon the Galičica ski centre project, keep the internal national park zoning as is, and consider developing ecotourism options that would not negatively impact the property.

Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to halt the construction projects of the Galičica ski resort, as well as the sub-sections (a) and (e) of the A3 road. It is also recommended that the Committee reminds the State Party that all projects including those submitted to major donors such as the European Union which may have potential negative impacts on the OUV of the property, should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for review in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. 

Considering the level of threats to the property, the mission identified a set of recommendations, some of which need to be prioritized and fulfilled over the next two years, in addition to those adopted in 2016 that still need to be fulfilled. The findings of the mission suggest that the overall state of conservation can be considered as vulnerable, and if the priority recommendations are not implemented within the suggested two-year time frame (i.e. in 2019), the property may meet the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2018, a progress report on the implementation of these priority recommendations for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies. If in their assessment insufficient progress is being made, the property will be examined by the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

Monday, June 5, 2017

World Environment Day- UNESCO message for 2017

5th June is the World Environment Day, a day when UN and other organisations are encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment.

On occasion of this Day, Ms Irina Bokova, the director General of UNESCO have a message to deliver on how to protect nature and Unesco natural world heritage. The topic for this year is "Connecting People with Nature"

Here is her full message on This Day:

It may seem hard to believe now, but, fifty years ago, it was thought the best way to protect nature was to make it off-limits to the human population…

Today, we know better.

We now know that the closer the relationship between people and their natural environment the more likely people are to appreciate the importance of nature and its biodiversity, heritage and water, for their personal well-being and the planet’s future.

This spirit guides all UNESCO’s action, embodied in a unique global network of UNESCO-designated sites, designed to bring people closer to nature, drawing a new map of the world -- a map of unity and peace, beyond borders, between women and men and the environment around them.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO Global Geoparks and World Heritage sites – often overlying key strategic surface or groundwater resources -- bring together more than 2,000 exceptional sites around the world. All of them employ local people and have their doors wide open to the public, because we know now this is the surest path to more inclusive and sustainable development, respectful of the boundaries of the planet.
Geoparks are open-air history books that take us back millions of years in time. Biosphere reserves are places where local communities tackle development challenges by crafting new social and economic pathways to sustainability. Geoparks and Biosphere Reserves combine conservation with education and innovative approaches to sustainable local development, such as ecotourism and organic agriculture.

All this is led forward locally, but these sites fit into a unique global network that allow ideas, experience and best practices to be shared far afield. Respect for nature comes with understanding, which is why UNESCO launched an educational kit on biodiversity for schoolchildren.

Water connects people to nature, and many UNESCO Cultural World Heritage sites are examples of how humanity has managed water to obtain it, store it, harness its power and conserve it. Look no further than the aqueducts, water gardens, and mills that mark our landscapes.

Today, I invite everyone to take time out from busy lives and to visit one of UNESCO’s sites. For a moment of contemplation, immerse yourself in a Persian Garden in Iran, where water plays an astonishing symbolic and ornamental role. In Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark in Canada, go for a swim in crystal-clear alpine lakes and sleep under the stars. Or go trekking in Jordan’s Mujib Biosphere Reserve, which lies 420 m below sea level in places, thanks to its proximity to the Dead Sea.

On this World Environment Day, I call all countries to make the most of UNESCO designated sites -- most of all, I call on women and men everywhere to connect with the nature around them that gives beauty, meaning and harmony to the lives we lead.

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:

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...


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.
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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.