The PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet has recently shared PONT’s experience in strengthening management effectiveness of protected areas in the Wider Prespa Area by publishing a Full Solution under the title Closing the gap between strategic and operational planning for protected areas. It builds upon and complements the previous story by PONT published on PANORAMA in 2018, under the title Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust (PONT) – an innovative partnership enhancing conservation and cooperation that won the prestigious Pathfinder Award of 2018.
The PANORAMA web platform allows practitioners from around the world to document and share examples of inspiring, replicable solutions by using a standard format that identifies the main replicable success elements (“building blocks”). The platform is maintained jointly by GIZ, IUCN, UN Environment, GRID-Arendal, Rare and IFOAM- Organics International, with IUCN and GIZ playing a leading role. The PANORAMA web platform has become a widely used tool for learning and exchanging knowledge across a range of conservation and development topics globally.
Over the past two decades, international donors have played a key role in establishing new protected areas and management authorities in the Wider Prespa Area, such as the Prespa NP in Albania or the establishment of the management body for Lake Prespa MN and Ezerani NP in North Macedonia, or in facilitating a transition from operations dominated by resource extraction to developing competencies for the key functions of modern protected area work at Galicica and Pelister NP in North Macedonia. With PONT committing long-term co-financing of recurrent management costs, by 2030 and beyond, Protected Area managers can plan for adequate human and financial resources over a long period of time and realistically allocate them among a range of possible activities to develop and maintain the key core operations and functions in their protected area.
The prospect of securing long-term co-financing from PONT has propelled the Protected Area management authorities in the Wider Prespa Area in Albania and North Macedonia to overhaul planning and implementation of their core operations. They are now regularly using the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) as a decision-support tool to achieve more transparent, evidence-based, and adaptive management, tied to the annual management cycle. The findings and results of the METT assessment inform the development of the operational plans using a template developed by PONT. PONT’s co-financing enables Protected Area managers recruit new staff and deploy adequate resources to sustain the core management functions over the long-term, such as biodiversity monitoring, environmental education or visitor management that were often neglected in the past or contingent on projects or other forms of intermittent external support.