Through the ongoing grant from PONT, the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) has recently completed the first detailed study of wetland habitats in the Prespa National Park. The study covers the entire Albanian part of the Lake Prespa catchment area. The mapping study has built upon the results and experience gained in mapping the wetland habitats in the Macedonian part of Prespa, which was conducted in 2018 by the Macedonian Ecological Society, in cooperation with partners from Greece, also with support from PONT (for more details click here).
In total seven habitat types listed in Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive have been identified in both countries. These include two priority habitat types in danger of disappearance: Pannonic sand steppes (6260), that is found only in North Macedonia, and Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae) (91E0), found in both countries. This information on the distribution of the habitat types listed in the Habitats Directive and their conservation status is being used by the national governments in developing their proposals for sites to be included in the Natura 2000 network.
In addition, five habitat types were identified in both countries following the EUNIS habitat classification, the most comprehensive pan-European system for habitat identification. This information helps create a complete picture of all wetland habitat types in Prespa.
The results of the wetland habitat mapping studies in both Albania and North Macedonia are presented in a single, transboundary map, recently published by PPNEA and available for download here.
The habitat mapping was based on a detailed inventory of vegetation types, compiled using the Braun-Blanquet method for analysis of plant species assemblages. A total of 35 different vegetation types were distinguished in the area, 17 of which were identified at the level of plant community and 18 as specific plant associations.
The team of Greek vegetation experts, involved in both studies, is currently updating the Natura 2000 habitats map and conservation status in the Greek part of Prespa. By combining the information on the distribution and conservation status of the EU habitats types in the three countries, the governments and environmental actors will be able to better coordinate and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their conservation and restoration efforts at the basin level.