By Constanze Schaaff
On 25 September, Member of Parliament Eduard Shalsi, the Director of the National Agency of Protected Areas Zamir Dedej, and the KfW Development Bank’s
project manager Frank Mörschel, came together to present their joint initiatives of the Albanian Government and German cooperation for the Prespa region at an event in Tirana.
The event brought together around 50 stakeholders, including GFA’s Managing Director, Christoph Schaefer-Kehnert, and institutions that are working in the wider Prespa Ohrid ecoregion highlighting the importance of the contribution of the German-Albanian Cooperation through the Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust and the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa Project (phase II) to the conservation efforts in the region. The project which is financed by KfW is implemented by a consortium led by GFA Consulting Group with the Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania.
On the event, GFA’s Team Leader Constanze Schaaff presented the activities and investments planned for the coming three years under the phase II of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa Project. PONT’s Managing Director, Mirjam de Koning gave an overview on PONT’s engagement in the ecoregion. The National Agency of Protected Areas emphasized the importance of the joint initiatives of the German Development Cooperation and the Albanian Government which are committed to continuously support the preservation of the natural and cultural values of the Prespa Ohrid region.
GFA Consulting Group is active in the ecoregion since 2005, when a KfW financed feasibility study was conducted. The study laid the base for bilateral projects on
nature conservation supported in Albania and FYR of Macedonia. A KfW project supporting the Galicica National Park (FYROM) was also implemented by GFA.
The Prespa Ohrid ecoregion and its protected areas, the Ohrid-Prespa Biosphere Reserve and the Prespa National Park are unique in terms of their natural and cultural heritage. Their ecosystems and habitats form part of the wider Mediterranean global hotspot of biodiversity and the lake systems Ohrid and the Great and Small Prespa Lakes are considered being among the most important sites of freshwater biodiversity in Europe and of extraordinary importance for both sedentary and migratory birds.
PONT, the Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust is a transboundary conservation trust fund dedicated to conserving this region and its rich natural and cultural heritage by providing effective long-term funding support to the national parks and conservation organizations in the region. In September 2018, the first grant agreement with Albania supporting the Regional Agency for Protected Areas of Korce, which is in charge of managing the Prespa National Park was signed.
The phase II of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa Project aims at the reduction of the pressure on natural resources as well as at the contribution to poverty reduction in the Albanian part of the Prespa Ohrid Transboundary Biosphere Reserve. The project will thus help to conserve biodiversity and improve living conditions of the population in Prespa National Park and in the Albanian part of the Biosphere reserve. The project will last three years until April 2021.
Photos: Arber Xhafa