PONT grantees actively participated in the 54th count season of the annual International Waterbird Census that took place on the second weekend of January 2020. Although situated at high altitudes, the Greater and Lesser Prespa Lakes consistently host 35,000 to 55,000 waterbirds every winter, significantly exceeding the requirement to be considered a Wetland of International Importance. The census provides a valuable snapshot of waterbird population sizes and trends at the Prespa Lakes in winter.
The count was carried out simultaneously in all three countries to avoid double-counting, and following jointly agreed observation points. Through the ongoing grants to Environmental Actors and protected area authorities, PONT is co-financing both staff and travel costs of the participants in all aspects of the count, including data consolidation and analysis.
The Macedonian Ecological Society (MES) coordinated the waterfowl census at Greater Lake Prespa in North Macedonia, in cooperation with the Public Institution Galicica National Park (PIGNP) and Resen Municipality, which manages the Ezerani Nature Park and the Lake Prespa Monument of Nature.
The census participants included ornithologists and volunteers of the MES as well as experts and rangers from the PIGNP and Resen Municipality. In Greece, the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) collaborated with the management body of Prespa National Park.
The waterfowl census on the Albanian side of both the Greater and Lesser Lakes Prespa was coordinated with the help of the Agriculture University of Tirana, in cooperation with the Regional Administration for Protected Areas of the Korca Region (RAPA Korca), and with logistical support from the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) and the “Transboundary Biosphere Reserve Prespa, Phase II project”, supported by the German Development Cooperation through KfW, and implemented by GFA Consulting Group and the Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania.
The census was an opportunity to improve the capacity for biodiversity monitoring by protected areas staff, and this year included four staff at RAPA, PIGNP and Resen Municipality who have been recently recruited with PONT co-financing. The long-term co-financing by PONT offers an opportunity for the Environmental Actors and protected area authorities to build stronger partnerships, which in turn ensures quality biodiversity monitoring data to inform nature conservation in Prespa.