PONT and the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Eko-svest, based in Skopje, signed a Grant Agreement related to the protection of selected river ecosystems in Mavrovo and Shar Mountain national parks in North Macedonia.
In September 2022, PONT opened a call for proposals for non-governmental organisations concerning the conservation of biodiversity in the Korab-Shara/Albanian Alps areas and the ecological corridors connecting the protected areas in the PONT Focus Region in Albania and North Macedonia. Eko-svest, was one of 6 applicants selected at the end of the application process.
Eko-svest submitted the proposal in consultation with the Public Institutions Mavrovo National Park and the Shar Mountain National Park. It focuses on the rivers that support populations of endemic and endangered species which are impacted by hydro-power generation infrastructure. The proposal has 4 specific objectives:
- Identify and document the threats to rivers in the Mavrovo and Shar Mountain National Parks
- Train and support protected area authorities to develop river monitoring practices, and to plan and implement protection and restoration measures
- Develop citizen science practices for regular contribution of local communities to river monitoring efforts
- Contribute to river and habitat restoration.
In the Shar Mountain National Park, river habitats are affected by the water collection system built for the Mavrovo Hydro-Power Plant (HPP), as well as 11 small HPPs built before the proclamation of the park in 2021. Restoration activities will focus on Bistrica River as the habitat of the endemic Macedonian trout (Salmo acedonicus).
In Mavrovo National Park, several rivers and associated biodiversity are also threatened by HPPs, including several small recently constructed HPPs and upcoming planned ones. Additional pressures include unsustainable water abstraction for agriculture and discharge of untreated wastewater. The restoration activities will focus on Mala Reka, a habitat for the endemic Radika trout (Salmo farioides) and Garska trout (Salmo montenegrinus).
The proposal includes drafting a by-law concerning environmental flow of streams, in line with the EU Water Framework Directive, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
The signing of the Grant Agreement took place in Mavrovo National Park, on the 8th May 2023, in the presence of the directors and managers of the Public Institutions Mavrovo National Park and Shar Mountain National Park. The Agreement covers a period of 36 months, starting from the 1st September 2023.