From 8-12 July many stakeholders joined forces in the Wider Prespa Area to work on the implementation of Natura 2000.
PONTs cooperation partner, the EU Twinning project, ‘Strengthening the capacities for effective implementation of the acquis in the field of nature protection’, organised the following events in Pelister NP (National Park) and Prespa Lake Monument of Nature:
- invertebrate inventory and monitoring training;
- habitat and vascular plant monitoring training;
- management plan (for Natura 2000 areas) preparation training; and
- public consultation on Draft Natura 2000 Management Plan for Pelister NP.
In the same week, PrespaNet partners organised a transboundary summer school in Pelister NP and a wetland habitat mapping exercise took place in Prespa National Park in Albania with the help of Greek experts. Both events were co-financed by PONT.
While there are no direct requirements for what is to be contained in the Management Plans of Natura 2000 sites, the basic elements are:
- to recognise and define Natura 2000 values in Protected Areas;
- to address the conservation status;
- to evaluate the threats and pressures; and
- to plan and perform concrete management activities for their conservation.
Under the Habitat and Bird Directives, countries are obliged to actively increase the nature values of Natura 2000 sites (e.g. remove invasive and non-native species, control grazing, increase the volume of deadwood). This is different from traditional protected area management, and ideally traditional protected area management planning & Natura 2000 management planning should be merged into one integrated management plan.
Habitats and species go together in the assessment of nature values using the ecosystems approach. For Pelister National Park the key values – habitats and species – were grouped according to three key ecosystem types:
- forest ecosystems;
- open ecosystems; and
- freshwater and wetland ecosystems.
The management principles for these ecosystems are different, and underpin the achievement of management goals. These principles are expected to be agreed at a national level and apply to all Natura 2000 sites. Protected area staff and other stakeholders need training on these topics and how to integrate and incorporate them into the ongoing programmes for management measures concerning habitat and species. To strengthen knowledge, various international and local experts, and students from Finland, North Macedonia, Greece and Albania participated in the inventory and monitoring training sessions in the field.
Pelister National Park was identified as a potential Natura 2000 site in 2016. With 21 habitat and at least 43 species of Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive, and 17 bird species protected by the Birds Directive being important at European Community level, Pelister National Park is expected to be protected by both EU directives (Habitats Directive and Birds Directive). This could unlock future EU funding for Pelister National Park.