LAGADIN REDEVELOPMENT: One of the most shocking things about urban planners in Macedonia is that they seem totally unable to appreciate the extreme beauty of Lake Ohrid’s natural environment and its contribution to the tourism industry. Therefore, they keep proposing fake beaches with associated developments to somehow improve a shoreline that nature has spent two million years carefully crafting. Lagadin, where a half-built TUI-linked hotel is illegally encroaching on a 50m green belt designed to protect the lake, is one such location. And, no, local villagers are not looking forward to the economic boost.
LJUBANISHTA: Some of Lake Ohrid’s clearest, healthiest waters are to be found in its south-eastern corner, while the adjacent national park forests are a playground for terrestrial wildlife. Perhaps it is no wonder then that moneygreedy development junkies are targeting the village of Ljubanishta for a massive makeover, split into three components that will munch nearly 300 hectares of National Park Galichica. That’s a horrifying 2,940,000 square meters, including disruption of critical and unique habitats at the Sveti Naum springs. Additional to this is a huge encroachment into the lake itself.
LIKELIHOOD: 3/5 Cancellation of the ski-resort plan has brought some breathing space for this ecologically elite area of Lake Ohrid, but it would be naive to believe that it is safe forever. Perhaps the creation of in-lake protected areas in the surrounding locality would help, but that is something authorities are yet to consider.
STENJE: Lake Prespa may seem a long way from Ohrid’s concrete massacre, but two stray bullets are flying that way too. One, for tourist accommodation to supply the aforementioned ski-resort, would destabilize a strictly protected wetland at Stenje, which contains both endemic and endangered species. Interventions to the groundwater and hydraulic regime during construction risk irrevocable damage, even according to the environmental assessment from flaky London environmental consultants Citrus Partners LLP.
LIKELIHOOD: 1/5 A big thumbs down from a Strategic Environmental Assessment should be terminal for this particular vandalism attempt, especially since even the Ski Area Feasibility Study from resort designer Ecosign admits expansion to the Prespa side is inadvisable due to “economic inefficiency”. However, plans to prize open Prespa for mass tourism are always being considered, so never say never…
WATERDROME: So there was once this idea to use the surface of one of Earth’s finest freshwater bodies, a Theater of Evolution, where many flora and fauna are so unique that they exist nowhere else on the planet, as a landing pad for airplanes, whose passengers would alight to a gigantic lakeshore resort sprawling over some of its most ecologically precious regions. That might sound like a great idea to you. If you’re insane. Or ignorant. Or both.
LIKELIHOOD: 1/5 Luckily, after defaulting on loans, the businessperson who treated us to this visionary concept has been spending more time in Indian jail than the Republic of Macedonia.