On Monday 28th of September 2020, the draft Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan the second transboundary management plan in accordance to the EU Water Framework Directive developed in South East Europe, was presented at a national consultation meeting organized by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia, involving approximately 30 representatives from the competent Ministries, public institutions, local government, civil and scientific society in North Macedonia.
The Plan was developed under the coordination of GWP-Med as part of the activities in the framework of the GEF supported Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med. The plan is in accordance with the national legislation and contains a Programme of Measures for the management of Lake Ohrid, an important transboundary water body shared between North Macedonia and Albania. The consultation meeting is part of the process for the official adoption of the plan by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
The management plan is prepared to be the instrument of cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia for the management of Lake Ohrid, a biodiversity hotspot with more than 300 endemic species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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The Lake supports the livelihoods of about 170,000 residents, sustaining economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism. However, in recent years the Lake faces a number of challenges such as declining fish stocks, eutrophication, habitat destruction and poor water status.
To address these challenges, the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan (LOWMP) was informed by transboundary data gathering, including the joint Lake Ohrid water quality surveillance monitoring campaign, an economic analysis and an analysis of ecosystem services in the region. It is one of five pilot activities implemented under the GEF Drin Project, which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin.
“The Plan is the result of a nearly two-year process that for the first time collected and analysed all scientific data relating to the watershed, including scientific, legal and socio-economic data of both Riparians. It is developed in accordance with the EU WFD and the national legislation of Albania and North Macedonia. This Plan, jointly with Prespa Lake Management Plan will be an integral part of the entire Drin Basin Management Plan” stated Mr. Ylber Mirta – Head of the Water Sector, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
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At the online consultation meeting, participants recognized the value of the LOWMP as a necessary step towards sustainably managing this important ecosystem, addressing the Lake’s common challenges and promoting cross sectoral cooperation within each riparian country in the framework of the EU Water Framework Directive. It includes over 100 measures that will prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystems quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts.
In the coming months, the corresponding national consultation meeting will take place in Albania, with a view to finalizing the LOWMP by the end of 2020.
The development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is in the frame of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).