2018 was an interesting year for Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) and PrespaNet, with many activities focused on laying the groundwork for the upcoming year and projects.
Being locally active is very important for PrespaNet and its organisations.
PPNEA Local Officer
PPNEA is looking to increase its presence in the area, promote its project and raise awareness about nature protection and preservation in Prespa. As such, they have hired a local officer, Cveta Trajce. Cveta is from Prespa and will be based in the new local office to be opened in Summer 2019. She has been involved in all the project activities at a local level.
This new local presence also offers the opportunity to work more closely with the Prespa National Park staff and other local stakeholders supporting them in their work. The local approach enables everyone interested in nature and wildlife conservation and protection to get more involved, and it is also an opportunity for close communication and cooperation with the local people.
The future belongs to the youth and they are those who need to know more about the importance, the values and the prosperity of Prespa. The transboundary summer school on “Nature Interpretation and Environmental Education for Prespa” hosted by PPNEA in September brought together 20 students and young practitioners from Albania, Greece and North Macedonia.
The students were trained by external experts from “Interpret Europe, European Association for Heritage Interpretation”, and the Regional Environmental Centre Albania (REC Albania). The students had their theoretical sessions at the University of Korça “Fan S. Noli” associated with outdoor teaching sessions. Following the summer school sessions, the students spent two days camping in Prespa.
Bringing young people close to Prespa and giving them the chance to see and be part of Prespa’s nature was an experience that all of them will remember. The students had also the chance to apply in practice what they were trained for during the theoretical sessions. The students obtained the basis for developing an environmental education package for Prespa that was set to be developed in the future together with the experts. We already have some participants from the summer school that are getting involved in different environmental activities, some of the students are volunteering in our activities, like the camera traps monitoring, and will be also part at the upcoming bear scat collection field trips. One of them has his own tourist agency, promoting nature and outdoor activities for young people and children. These are some results showing that the summer school has fostered further cooperation, new friendships and partnerships, and has created a group of fervent young environmentalists.
Nature and Wildlife Protection
Protection and preservation of nature and wildlife is among the main goals of our project, and what PPNEA stands for as an organisation.
PPNEA has conducted many wildlife studies before in Prespa, including the camera traps studies, but this year was the first time they conducted a coordinated transboundary camera trap wildlife monitoring study in all three sides of the Prespa basin.
The large carnivores (LC) monitoring team of PPNEA developed a detailed plan and transects that were followed during the study. Ten camera traps were placed in different locations spread both in Great and Small Prespa and were checked every ten days for a two-month period. The first transboundary large carnivore monitoring study provided us with very important data. 212 photographs and 29 videos were captured in the Albanian side of Prespa. Photos and videos of the brown bear, the wildcat, wolves, wild boar, roe deer, pine marten and other animals were captured with the camera traps.
Additionally, a transboundary study for the brown bear population was conducted during this period by the three partners. The PPNEA LC experts collected bear scats for DNA and diet analysis during the summer, autumn and winter seasons. This study will help the three organizations of the network to estimate the number of brown bears that live in the area and their movement across the three sides of the Prespa Lake basin. The total number of scats collected from PPNEA during the last season is 61 samples for diet analysis and 25 samples for DNA analysis. The new season is ahead and our LC team and volunteers are looking forward to collecting and reviewing further results. When the sample target is reached, they will be processed for diet analysis and later on for DNA analysis.
A group of volunteers, including students of biology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences from the University Fan S. Noli in Korça, are looking forward to the new season of monitoring and bear scat collection.