Successful management of the Lake Ohrid region depends heavily on collaboration between diverse stakeholders and a harmonious balance of nature, culture, landscape and development. During the training on Collaborative Integrated Management of Protected and Heritage Landscapes held in April in Lin Peninsula, Albania, the stakeholders learned how to develop an integrated and cooperative approach to managing complex landscapes.
“The first success is that we now think of the lake as one whole, together with our Macedonian partners. We are now aware that we have to cooperate with our partners and protect the lake from damages that have been made until now”, said Mr. Mihallaq Qirjo, Director of the Regional Agency for Protected Areas (RAPA) for Korca region, speaking about the positive impacts the project has achieved thus far.
The training brought together more than 20 representatives from Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including the respective Ministries of Environment and Culture, protected area authorities, representatives from fisheries and tourism industries, as well as experts from ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN.
“This training assists the two countries to improve and upgrade transboundary cooperation by helping to better understand Lake Ohrid’s outstanding universal values, both natural and cultural. Cooperation between diverse stakeholders is the key to expanding the mechanisms for transboundary cooperation, strengthening the involvement of various stakeholders, and also harmonizing the actions on both sides through joint management activities,” said Mr. Oliver Avramoski, Project Officer at IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The course had a strong focus on interactive learning, with an emphasis on group work, practical exercises and field work. The training’s objectives included participants achieving a sound understanding of various mandates, rights and responsibilities that can affect complex landscapes; understanding different types of governance that can be applied to protected landscapes and the importance of collaboration and partnership; gaining experience of co-management approaches that combine nature, culture, local needs and development; and gaining new skills and understandings in consensus building, negotiation and conflict resolution. This knowledge contributes to the development of a co-management system for the Pogradec Protected Landscape and the potential transboundary World Heritage property in the Lake Ohrid region.
The training was organized as part of the joint EU UNESCO project “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake Ohrid region”. The project seeks to reinforce transboundary cooperation between Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, establish integrated management mechanisms, increase the effectiveness of capacity building, and profile the transboundary area and its sustainable tourism opportunities. In addition, the project aims to support the efforts of national authorities in the preparation of a nomination file to extend the World Heritage property “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region” to the Albanian side.