STUDENCHISHTE MARSH: Gradually degraded after decades of neglect, the wetland of Studenchishte remains an important filter safeguarding Lake Ohrid’s extremely specific water conditions. It is also a regionally rare habitat, supplying extra biodiversity and all the goodness that goes with that. Nonetheless, local authorities have been seeking to drain, concrete and replace Studenchishte with luxury accommodation and even a water-sports complex. Many things will die or diminish if that happens, not least the magical clarity of Lake Ohrid’s water.
LIKELIHOOD: 2/5 Although plans are on-hold for the moment, history tells us that the wetland threat will not go away until Studenchishte Marsh is awarded a robust level of protection. That’s why Ohrid SOS is pushing for its inclusion in the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance.
A3 EXPRESS ROAD: Planned to connect Ohrid city with the Albanian border near Sveti Naum, this tarmac villain will rip National Park Galichica apart, bringing noise, trash, fumes, incremental urbanization, poachers, wildfires, light pollution and broken homes in its wake. One of the legal tricks to make it happen involves re-categorizing protected areas. If allowed, nowhere in the Republic of Macedonia will be safe again.
LIKELIHOOD: 4/5 Since one of the financial backers for the project is the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, whose environmental irresponsibility in the Republic of Macedonia has extended to a blocked attempt at defacing the main breeding area for the critically endangered Balkan lynx, this one is not going to go away easily. On the other hand, neither is UNESCO or Ohrid SOS.
SKI-RESORT: Hand-in-hand with the A3 express road comes a proposal to slice through National Park Galichica’s forests and grasslands with ski-runs and associated facilities, despite severe concerns over whether the mountain offers suitable conditions for winter sports. Designed by Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, a greenwashed company that has won the Rusty Nail anti-award for unsustainability, the ski-resort will invade species’ homes just where they should be feeling safest.
LIKELIHOOD: 2/5 Nobody could be stupid enough to invest in a south-European ski-resort on a relatively low mountain when almost every single climate prediction advises against it, could they?
MARINA: Walking out from Ohrid on the east of town, you cross Studenchishta Channel, which borders the aforementioned Studenchishte Marsh. As if bulldozing everything on land was not enough, urban planners also want to expand into the lake too with a 300-boat marina that is intended to increase the number of watercraft on the lake. While destroying reeds, damaging the shore, and disturbing fish, the proposal is also flexing its muscles for a specially designed car-park for vehicles with boat trailers, a refueling station, restaurant, shop for nautical equipment, and a “traditional lighthouse”, whatever than means…
LIKELIHOOD: 3/5 Like the drainage of Studenchishte Marsh, the marina is on hold for the moment. That doesn’t mean it’s gone away forever, however.