Guardians of the Aquatic Galapagos


We think the beauty, vitality, and infinite wisdom of Macedonia’s UNESCO Ohrid region create a richer world for all humanity. We think that the fate of its species and habitats is also shared by its people. We think that an initiative composed of scientists, NGO leaders, activists and concerned citizens can ultimately spark a brighter future for all. We think that World Heritage waters and a mountain wilderness hold all the inspiration we need.

We think; therefore we protect.


The Ohrid SOS citizens’ initiative mobilized on 16 January 2015 following a public consultation on changes to the urban plan for the city of Ohrid, which intended, against expert advice, to drain and concrete the Studenchishte Marsh wetland, a haven of biodiversity and life support for UNESCO Lake Ohrid’s World Heritage ecosystems.

The SOS movement quickly expanded to incorporate opposition to large-scale development plans throughout the Ohrid region, most notably in National Park Galichica, where proposed changes to the management plan foreshadowed road construction, a ski-resort and multifarious urbanization in the coastal zone.

Although the road and ski-resort were successfully averted and destruction of Studenchishte Marsh has been cancelled for the moment, diverse pressures continue to deteriorate the Ohrid region and it has even been considered for the List of World Heritage in Danger. Protected status for the marsh is also delayed.

So, the SOS mission has now been extended indefinitely until the ecological future of Lake Ohrid is as peaceful as its sublime waters…

Lake Ohrid Swan


Saving Lake Ohrid has taken almost too many forms to list. Aside from less glamorous yet essential activities such as letter-writing, comment-submitting, consultation attendance, meetings with international development banks and ploughing through the fine print of Macedonian law, we’ve also had time for marsh clean-ups; street theater performances and an Earth Day public party; conference and workshop attendances; expert round-table discussions; photo competitions; festival appearances; social, national and international media campaigns; youth outreach; a Round The Lake bike ride; and public presentations from Faro to Taipei. On top of that, we have authored numerous articles, papers and reports, gave a speech at the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow, Poland 2017, and have even helped to organize the Society of Wetland Scientists’ 13th Europe Chapter Meeting in Ohrid 2018.

We’d like to think this is just the start…


Ohrid SOS has five main objectives:

  1. To end any practice that will lead to the avoidable loss or damage of Ohrid region species, habitats and ecosystems
  2. To ensure that every citizen and visitor to the Ohrid region is aware enough to fall in love with the uniqueness and worldwide significance of its natural heritage
  3. To establish a symbiosis between economic and conservation aims, especially within the tourism industry
  4. To position green issues centrally within the Republic of Macedonia, which, as one of Europe’s most wildlife-rich countries, is a guardian for all our futures
  5. To provide a reliable and authoritative source of information on issues that relate to Ohrid’s nature


If you have an idea of how you’d like to get involved with Ohrid SOS or to write an article that would be compatible with the conservation aims of this website, please send an email to

Main Photo: Ljupco Lepi;

Inline Photo: Kliment A. 

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