Fire in the Cradle

Reeds mysteriously caught fire along Lake Ohrid’s coastal zone in the Municipality of Struga on a mid-February night 2019, just ahead of the breeding season for waterbirds. It was the first of several shoreline fires that ripped through reed beds during February and into March, burning up vital habitats where fish spawn, birds nest and water is cleansed.

The fire brigade suspects arson. Ohrid SOS suspects arson. Lake Ohrid’s new EcoPatrol, the first to report on the incident via its dedicated Facebook page, suspects arson. Nobody was caught in relation.

Within days, one blackened area where reeds had once whispered in the breeze was being walled up and the ground upon which they had stood compacted with gravel. By March, a truck was dumping down yet more material upon their graves, darkness upon darkness, death upon death, where life had once been restored from generation to generation.

Those reeds will never now be permitted to return. It is far more likely that they will soon become a building site for residences or tourism facilities that want nature for selfies without the inconvenience of its most important components obscuring the view. #NoFilter. Lmao.

Informed of yet another desecration at Macedonia’s only World Heritage Site, the Inspector of Environment was typically ineffectual, referring the incident to other inspectorates and falsely claiming that destruction had not taken place in-lake. Other authorities are barely worth mentioning. It is not impossible that they are complicit.

The next step is to refer the matter to UNESCO, which could perhaps have averted this kind of coastal manipulation if it had not remained bizarrely silent throughout 2018 when tampering of the shore was continuing in the face of its request for a moratorium on any coastal transformation.

Thus we await nightfall to see what more will be lost forever by the morning…

All photos from Monitoring, Protection and Sustainable Use of the Reed Belt of Lake Ohrid. Big respect to them.

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