The Hydrobiological Institute Ohrid (HIO) and the Municipality of Resen in North Macedonia have recently formalised their partnership through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, with the aim of strengthening management effectiveness of Lake Prespa Monument of Nature and Ezerani Nature Park in North Macedonia.
With a planning grant from PONT, HIO has adopted a strategic plan for its contribution to conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity, natural processes and ecosystem services in Prespa and its wider area for the period 2019-2023.
In support of the Memorandum of Understanding and the partnership it underpins, the new grant from PONT enables HIO to tackle some of the priorities identified in its Strategic Plan by pursuing the following objectives:
(1) train the new staff (chemist and biologists) in the Stenye Monitoring Station, as well as the rangers, to conduct basic procedures for sample collection and analysis, in line with the water and biodiversity monitoring programmes for the two protected areas managed by the Municipality of Resen;
(2) develop three applied research project proposals that address priority management issues concerning the two protected areas to be conducted over a period of three to five years;
(3) enhance HIO’s capacity for providing scientific evidence and technical advice concerning the priority conservation actions identified in the PONT Strategic Framework and the management plans for the protected areas in the Wider Prespa Area in North Macedonia.
The activities combine theoretical and practical training in the laboratories of HIO and the Stenye Monitoring Station, as well as field sampling and monitoring. The Resen Municipality has established and manages the Stenye Monitoring Station, which is tasked with conducting basic monitoring of water quality, ecosystem processes, habitats and species in the two protected areas and the watershed of Lake Prespa in North Macedonia.
In 2019 Resen Municipality hired a chemist with financial support from PONT and is planning to hire a biologist in 2020, also to be financed by PONT (through the new grant).
The grant will also help HIO enhance its own capacity by implementing quality assurance procedures and standards, in line with EU Water Framework Directive requirements. A licensed consulting company will be hired in the first phase to assess the current situation and the requirements for accreditation of HIO’s laboratories and methods.