Story | 08 Jul, 2020

Towards improved management of natural resources in North Macedonia

Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia is launching the process of evaluating the natural and socio-economic values of the Lake Ohrid and the Shar Mountains, with the support of national and international experts, civil sector and the local community. The process will be supported by IUCN and is expected to set the direction for the effective management of these two transboundary sites for the next 10 years.

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Shar Mountains, North Macedonia 

Photo: Daniel Bogner


Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia Naser Nuredini, Minister of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia Photo: IUCN

“Evaluation and consequent preparation of management plans for Lake Ohrid and the Shar Mountains will guide effective management of these sites’ valuable natural resources, to the benefit of the local community and in line with the national and international legislative provisions on nature protection,” said Naser Nuredini, Minister, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia, announcing the activity. This process will contribute to the implementation of the National Strategy for Nature Protection (2017-2027) and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2018-2028) of North Macedonia, help meet the requirements of the EU Bird and Habitats Directives, as well as mark the progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 11.

“Helping countries and communities designate and manage protected areas is one of IUCN’s main areas of expertise,” said Boris Erg, Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECARO). “We are pleased to facilitate the process in North Macedonia, in close cooperation with the national authorities, local community, and the civil sector. Our goal is to achieve better management of natural resources in the country by applying the highest global conservation standards,” he added.

The efforts towards enhancing the management of Lake Ohrid and the Shar Mountains are part of a larger GEF-funded project “Achieving Biodiversity Conservation through Creation and Effective Management of Protected Areas and Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Land Use Planning”, implemented through the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.

“GEF and UNEP remain dedicated partners, supporting the country in current and upcoming projects to address nature protection, land degradation and climate change. We are doing a great job, with fantastic support from MOEPP and stand ready to support the country, but we urge all relevant institutions and organizations, to collaborate and actively participate in this process", said Sonja Gebert, GEF Coordination Specialist, UN Environment Programme, Vienna Office.

Both sites are transboundary. The Shar Mountains is an area of outstanding biodiversity and natural beauty, shared with Albania and Kosovo, countries in which it has a protected status. One of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, Lake Ohrid straddles the border between Albania and North Macedonia and hosts a unique aquatic ecosystem. This hotspot of freshwater biodiversity is home to over 200 endemic species and has the status of a World Heritage Site.

Throughout the year, partners will focus on developing the valorisation study for Lake Ohrid that will enable a comprehensive understanding of the natural and socio-economic values of the lake. This, together with the Shar Mountains valorisation study completed earlier in 2020, will inform the development of management plans for both sites, in accordance with national regulations governing the process, and steered by IUCN WCPA Best Practice Protected Areas Guidelines and the results of a Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) analysis, to name a few.