The Macedonian Ecological Society (MES) and Resen Municipality, managing Ezerani Nature Park and Lake Prespa Monument of Nature, have recently embarked on a ground-breaking work to restore wet meadows and alluvial forests with common alder. The work builds upon previous studies that mapped all wetland habitats and identified restoration options for priority habitat types around the Greater Prespa Lake in North Macedonia.
The studies identified four types of wet meadows and a set of measures to improve their conservation status, such as mowing during the summer period and subsequent removal of the hay. With the involvement of local farmers, the groundwork begun in mid-August 2020 with mechanical mowing of 1.6 hectares of state-owned land within the boundaries of Ezerani Nature Park, comprising two habitat types: the Calamagrostis epigeios community and beds of large sedge (Carex) species. The mowed hay was collected into 350 bales that were distributed to local stockbreeders selected through a set of criteria agreed between the park managers and local MES experts.
The restoration of riparian forests with common alder (Alnus glutinosa) – an EU priority habitat type (91E0) – was carried out to complement the natural regeneration of alder trees that has been hampered by climate change, presence of invasive and exotic plant species and human activities in the past. It involved afforestation of several parcels within the Ezerani Nature Park (0.4 ha in total) with alder seedlings produced by MES from locally collected seeds and one-year old shoots from naturally growing trees in the park. The restoration activities will continue over the next 3 years alongside with ecological monitoring of the afforested area in comparison with the natural succession in and around the old alder forest stands in the park.
PONT provided financial support to both Resen Municipality and MES for undertaking habitat restoration in all stages of the effort, from habitat mapping, through assessment of restoration options, to piloting and scaling up. By supporting the transboundary PrespaNet, PONT also facilitated the exchange of experience and know-how among experts and protected area managers of the three riparian countries in the Prespa basin.