ANNUAL REPORT 2020

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

PONT Programme

Despite a difficult year for all of us PONT continued providing financial support to its partners for essential conservation actions. Ten-year management plans, with detailed five-year operational plans and realistic budgets, were prepared for Pelister National Park, Lake Prespa Monument of Nature, and Galicica National Park. The respective Protected Area Authorities have submitted all documents for official approval by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning in North Macedonia. Although legally not yet required Natura 2000 aspects have already been integrated in the draft management plans. For Prespa National Park in Albania a mid-term review of the management plan was conducted followed by a detailed operational plan for the upcoming years. These efforts formed the solid basis for detailed three-year grant applications by the Protected Area Authorities which were approved by the PONT Supervisory Board.

We are pleased that the recently established local PrespaNet offices have resulted in an improved cooperation between the Protected Area Authorities, local communities and NGOs. In cooperation with the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund we ran our first open joint Call for Proposals resulting in two complementary grants on the conservation of endemic plants and one grant on the conservation of the Prespa trout.

Climate Change

We are concerned about the ongoing water crisis in Prespa, caused by the historically low water levels, affecting both humans and nature in the Prespa basin. PONT continuously supports the Protected Area Authorities in the Prespa watershed by covering a part of their operational costs. Through this effort Galicica National Park managed to abandon the profit-driven management of forest habitats which resulted in a decrease of at least 2,4 tonnes CO2 emission in 2020. Pelister National Park plans to also gradually reduce the extent of commercial logging as “the nature zone” in the new recently approved management plan has been enlarged. With regard to climate change adaptation we continue to support our partners through wetland restoration and improved habitat management. We are happy with the recent steps made by the three governments to set-up the institutions related to the transboundary Prespa Park.

Plans for 2021

In 2021 we plan to start the geographical expansion of PONT by including other important protected areas located in the Wider Prespa-Ohrid region.

 “We would like to congratulate our grantees with their achievements and making 2020 a successful year for PONT! We look forward to fostering greater cooperation and synergies for the conservation of this very special region.”

Lynda Mansson - President of the Board & Mirjam de Koning - Executive Director

2020 YEAR IN REVIEW

Unlike standard “project-based” or “short-term” solutions, PONT’s funding is long-term and designed to ensure the sustainable management of the Wider Prespa-Ohrid region. Our model emphasises long-term commitment, transparency, accountability and collaboration, and these traits are reflected in our five-year strategy. Our emphasis is on the implementation of operational measures and, if appropriate, applied research, studies and experimentation linked directly to implementation.

Co-Financing Ratio and Division

PONT’S PROTECTED AREA GRANT
PROGRAMME

PONT enables protected areas in the Wider Prespa Area to develop and implement their management plans to conserve nature through sustainable co-financing of operational costs. PONT supports the development and use of standard operational planning and reporting systems for the implementation of proprietary protected area programmes. Standardised biodiversity monitoring systems must be developed in which data collection, data analysis and habitat management are implemented, with an efficient division of what can be done by the protected area staff themselves, local people and what to outsource to third parties. Enabling the protected area staff to increasingly use scientific data in managing the area must be included in the third-party contracts. The inclusion of minimum Natura 2000 requirements will garner importance in the coming years.

PONT’S ENVIRONMENTAL ACTORS GRANT PROGRAMME

Grants to environmental actors are for qualified NGOs, municipalities and research institutes with a local presence in the Wider Prespa Area and with a strategy in conservation, developing society, improving communities, and promoting citizen participation in conservation. PONT funding priorities for environmental actors are mainly focussed on transboundary conservation activities, some important specialised conservation activities and work related to nature-based tourism and non-timber forest products. In addition, environmental actors with a focus on conservation in the Wider Prespa Area are supported with their operations and organisational development so as to make the organisations more robust and capable of sourcing third party funding.

PONT financial support to NGOs and research institutes is directed towards the implementation of activities identified in the management plans for the respective protected areas and where there is a lack of capacity within the protected area management bodies. Applied research, with the involvement of protected area staff, directly focussed on species or habitat management is also supported, but fundamental research is not.

2020 RESULTS AND HIGHLIGHTS

We are very pleased with the progress made by our beneficiaries. Below we want to highlight some of the results.

Please click on the slides to read more about each of the projects.

KEY MESSAGE

IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUATION OF ESSENTIAL CONSERVATION ACTIONS

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic PONT disbursed 90% of its planned 2020 budget allocated to grants and grant related consultants. This illustrates once again the importance of the long-term financial support for essential conservation actions. Law enforcement, fire management, visitor management and other important activities continued throughout the year. It also shows the resilience and commitment by our long-term partners continuing to operate in often challenging circumstances.

In Prespa National Park in Albania the rangers continued regular patrolling even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The environmental education programmes related to the junior rangers continued with online sessions and existing hiking trails were cleared and marked by four local temporary workers. Firefighting equipment and materials were procured and effectively used in the dry season.

Since the lockdown was lifted, Galicica National Park has been a popular destination for the people in the Prespa-Ohrid region and across the country, seeking relaxation in nature after their indoor isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The park has kept the entrances open and waived entrance fees until the end of June. The park staff continued with the preparations for implementing the ambitious plan for maintenance and repair of the visitor infrastructure.

“Managing a national park is impossible without an updated Management Plan, which is the basis of legal operations in the Republic of North Macedonia. Pelister National Park, thanks to the financial support of the Prespa-Ohrid Nature Trust, adopted the key document for the institution, which means that natural values are protected and thus biodiversity is preserved at all levels and continues to be the main feature of the Park.
The most important thing for all of us is the adaptation of forestry practices, together with the new management zoning, paving the way for the transition from long-term operation in forest production to conservation, in line with the vision for the park, as set out in the new management plan. Staff capacity building is crucial for the future and development of the Park. The education and training will contribute to the realization of the preservation of the biodiversity of Pelister NP.
It is important to note that stakeholders, scientific council members, and NGOs were involved in public hearings on the preparation of the Management Plan for Pelister NP, where programmes and activities were presented and supplemented with proposals for better management of the National Park. Joint planning laid the first foundations for cooperation with them. Progress has been made in communicating.” – PIPNP

“With the support of PONT and the project ‘Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa’ Phase II, in Prespa NP, work continues on the maintenance of existing paths and the opening of new paths in special facilities such as towers, natural monuments, culture, etc.“ – RAPA

“A fire was identified in the area of the village of Cerje near the border with Greece. The fire has affected a considerable area of mixed oak forest and bush. Thanks to the cooperative work of the rangers of ADZM Korca and the staff of the municipality of Pustec, its isolation was done in a very short time, thanks also to the new specific fire extinguishing equipment enabled by PONT” – RAPA

“We have selected a local company to conduct the revitalization of the System of Trails and I have been appointed as a responsible person for the control of the operations. Since I have the National Park deep in my heart, I voluntarily joined the team in the actual physical works, and I can say that this is something of which I am immensely proud. We have managed to change and revitalize all information boards, location boards and signs and add some new ones, too. It has been a great pleasure and honour for me to be able to contribute towards the enhancement of the infrastructure, especially given the transformation of the working through which the PIGNP is going now.” – GJ, PIGNP

OUR PARTNERS

As PONT grants require co-financing of at least 50% for protected area grants and 25% for environmental actor grants, we rely on contributions by the government, the own contribution by our grantees and the contribution by our cooperation partners. We acknowledge and are grateful for the following sources of cofinancing by our cooperation partners.

GranteeOther sources of co-financing by cooperation partners
National Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) “Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa Project”, financed by KfW and implemented by GFA and INCA.
Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA)Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation
Macedonian Ecological Society (MES)Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation
Connecting Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP)Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the financing of the “Local Economic Development project”
Alpine club PATAGONIA OhridEU financed IPA-CBC programme “New opportunities for safe winter adventures”, to be implemented between 01.11.2019 - 31.10.2022
Association of sports “Sport for all – All for sport”Private companies in North Macedonia; EU Delegation in North Macedonia; City of Ohrid; contribution by participants participating in the Ohrid Trail
Albanian Centre for Environmental Governance (ACEG)The programme “Sustainable Economic and Regional Development, Employment Promotion, Vocational Education and Training in Albania” (ProSEED), funded by BMZ, and implemented by GIZ.
ILIRIA- Protection and Social & Environmental Development AssociationCritical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
Research Centre for Environment and Materials of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MASA)Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)
Balkan Foundation Sustainable Development (BFSD)Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)

SOLID FUNDING BASE

With an additional endowment of €4.4 million from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the total capital input for PONT amounts to €42.6 million. The MAVA Foundation awarded a Fundraising Grant of €49,515 so we can increase our fundraising capacities. PONT is extremely grateful for the additional contributions and the unwavering commitment of our founding donors to our mission and its future success: MAVA Foundation and the KfW Development Bank (KfW) – mandated by BMZ.

With the funding split between permanent capital committed to our endowment and a portion in the form of “sinking funds” (which must be spent by a certain date), these commitments provide us with a solid financial base for the coming years.

Earnings on the investment of KfW’s endowment contribution and sinking fund, and the entire principal of the sinking fund, are dedicated primarily to support PONT’s grant programme for protected areas and environmental actors, such as NGOs working in the portions of the Wider Prespa Area located in Albania and North Macedonia. A smaller portion may also be used to cover PONT operating expenses.

The MAVA sinking fund (including investment earnings thereon) is actively used to support PONT’s grant programme in favour of the Greek NGO Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP). The investment earnings on MAVA’s endowment can be used for any purpose that supports our mission.

Earnings on the investment of the endowment provided by a donor who wants to remain anonymous are used to support the work related to the conservation of species and their habitats in the entire basin.

GOVERNANCE

FINANCIALS

The Financial Statement 2020 will be published when the 2020 audit report is finalised by PONT’s independent auditor by mid 2021. A summary of the 2020 Financials is provided in the full PONT Annual Report 2020 which can be downloaded here.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

A special thank you to Nina Smith and Ronny Dobbelsteijn for providing us with pro bono support for our public relations, IT and communications.

Under the leadership of David Morrison, the pro-bono contribution of our investment committee members (Al Breach, Johan Holgersson, Ronald Kent and Alexandre Manghi) remains invaluable. PONT would like to thank all of them for their contribution.

A big thank you to Christoph Tiskens and Frank Mörschel from the KfW for their invaluable contributions over the last years. We welcome their successors Dr. Klaus Müller and Dr. Matthias Grüninger and are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation for the years to come.

We would also like to thank all our cooperation partners for their co-financing contributions and technical inputs.

Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust - PONT - Conservation, Sustainability