: Preparatory Actions
The preparatory actions, form the first and most important phase of the project, as they pave the way for the conservation actions that will follow. The optimal implementation of the conservation interventions requires the prior conduction of specific studies that will set the specifications.
A1. Assessment of wetland vegetation management
A2. Guidelines for wetland vegetation management
A3. Technical studies for the restoration of function of stream mouths
A4. Feasibility study for alternative uses of reed biomass
A5. Guidelines for responding to incidences of disease outbreak in pelicans
A6. Assessment of habitat vulnerability to climate change to establish “climate change proof” wetland vegetation management. Conservation Actions
The conservation actions form the main part of the project and their implementation is based on the directions and specifications that arise from the preparatory actions. They include the management of the wetland vegetation in specific sites which the relevant studies will determine. Actions:
C1. Management of wetland vegetation
C2. Management of drainage ditches vegetation
C3. Restoration of the function of stream mouths
C4. Biomass utilization for soil conditioning
C5. Transboundary coordination of wetland management and monitoring efforts Monitoring Actions
These actions aim to monitor the effectiveness of the conservation actions and the targets set in the project. These targets are related both to the improvement of the natural environment and the level that the local community perceives and endorses the project.
D1. Scientific monitoring of biodiversity indicators
D2. Monitoring of the project performance indicators
D3. Assessment of the socio-economic impact of the project
D4. Assessment of the ecosystem functions restoration Communication Actions
The communication actions of the project aim to approach a variety of different audiences. The local community of Prespa, the academic community, the stakeholders who are involved in wetland management, as well as sensitized visitors and especially bird-watchers consist priority target groups.
E1. Dissemination of the project and networking
E2. Media tools: documentary & smartphone application
E3. Communication material
E4. Summer school for wetland management and monitoring techniques
E5. Environmental education activities
E6. Workshops for stakeholders for responding to disease outbreaks
: Lake of Lesser Prespa
: Prespa Basin, Western Macedonia
: 5 years (until 2021)
: Society for the Protection of Prespa, Tour du Valat and National Observatory of Athens
Increased provisioning of ecosystem goods (e.g. Food, water, etc)
The benefits of the implementation of the conservation actions for the local community are following: • the increase in fish spawning areas has a positive effect on the fishery sector; • the clearing of the draining ditches benefits farming, by improving the drainage of the cultivated fields; • the use of the reed biomass as fodder for livestock; • the use of reed biomass to increase the productivity of cultivated fields.
Improved aesthetic value
Education, knowledge exchange and learning
Yes, the project also aims on increasing the local community’s environmental awareness and improving of the knowledge of the academic community and stakeholders, through the sharing of the practices and the results of the project. The project includes a study which evaluates the impact of climate change not only on the lakes, but also on the local production and economy. This allows for the optimal design of the management of the area in the future. Likewise, the project comprises of informative activities which help supplying the local community with timely and up to date material in case of an avian flu outbreak amongst pelicans or other water birds. Since the lakes are shared by three countries, the project foresees an enhancement in the transboundary cooperation, with several other institutions in Albania and FYROM on all the above issues. Lastly, several informative, awareness, educational and networking activities take place, which contribute both to keeping informed the wider audience and to the active participation of the local community in the management of this valuable ecosystem (Society for the Protection of Prespa, 2020).
Drought and heat risk
The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11)
The project, includes a study which will evaluate the impact of climate change not only on the lakes, but also on the local production and economy (van der Schriek and Giannakopoulos 2020). This will allow for optimal design for the development of the area in the future. Cut reed biomass is used primarily as livestock fodder, while also being tested as a potential soil condition material for local agricultural fields, thus strengthening the local economy and involving local productive groups in the management of wetlands. Research will be also conducted on how to best utilize the cut reeds to strengthen the local economy. The promotion of the area as an ideal bird-watching destination supports the eco-tourism sector. (Society for the Protection of Prespa, 2020)
Climate action, resilience, mitigation and adaptation (SDG13)
The project contributes to the conservation of rare water bird species, through climate-proof wetland vegetation management. The critical issue of climate change informs all conservation activities to ensure their future effectiveness. Nature-based solutions are at the core of the wetland-vegetation management actions that form the central part of this project, with interventions benefitting both nature and man. Future regional climate projections indicate an imminent temperature rise, precipitation decreases, a fall in water level of Lesser Prespa Lake and a higher frequency of extreme weather conditions (van der Schriek and Giannakopoulos 2017; NOA 2020). These changes affect all ecosystem functions, as well as reducing the availability of water for irrigation. This project focusses on the impact of climate change on the wet meadows, which are crucial spawning areas for fish and feeding grounds for waterbirds. Projections of prolonged future droughts are expected to  increase the risk of reedbed fires, significantly affecting the birds’ breeding success, and  reduce the extent of seasonal wet meadow flooding, thus negatively influencing fish spawning and bird feeding. Wet meadows are important littoral areas usually situated at the interface between reedbeds and drier grasslands; the conservation of these habitats is affected by the management of this zone to retain low herbaceous vegetation and by the annual spring water level which should enable the flooding of this zone. In the absence of vegetation management (such as cutting or grazing) reeds tend to cover the mild-slope lakeshores, leading to an absence of wet meadow habitats or shallow-water habitats free of vegetation to be used as fish spawning and feeding grounds for water birds. (Society for the Protection of Prespa, 2020)
Aquatic biodiversity (SDG14)
Terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15)
: Cramer, W., Guiot, J., Fader, M., Garrabou, J., Gattuso, J.-P., Iglesias, A., Lange, M.A., Lionello , P., Llasat , M.C., Paz, S., Peñuelas, J., Snoussi, M., Toreti , A., Tsimplis, M.N., Xoplaki, E. 2018. Climate change and interconnected risks to sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Nature Climate Change. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0299-2.
Lionello, P., Scarascia, L. 2018. The relation between climate change in the Mediterranean region and global warming. In Regional Environmental Change, 2018, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1481–1493. van der Schriek, T. and Giannakopoulos, C. (2017), Determining the causes for the dramatic recent fall of Lake Prespa (SW Balkan). Hydrological Sciences Journal 7: 1131-1148.
Society for the Protection of Prespa. (2020). Bird conservation in Lesser Prespa: benefiting local communities and building a climate change resilient ecosystem. Information obtained: 2020-12-07. Available at: https://www.prespawaterbirds.gr/the-project-weg-11899.html.
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Pettenuzzo D, Pinardi N, Pino C, Shaw AGP, Sousa P, Toreti A, Trigo RM, Tsimplis M. 2013. Past and current climate changes in the Mediterranean region. In: Navarra A, Tubiana L (eds) Regional Assessment of Climate Change in the Mediterranean. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 9–52. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-5781-3_2.
Tim van der Schriek, Christos Giannakopoulos, Konstantinos V. Varotsos (2020). The impact of future climate change on bean cultivation in the Prespa Lake catchment, northern Greece. Euro-Mediterranean Journal for Environmental Integration 5:14 https://doi.org/10.1007/s41207-020-0151-8