3 MAY 2018: A momentous day in the battle to protect Studenchishte Marsh and UNESCO Lake Ohrid began with a jaw-dropping press conference this morning and has just concluded with the unanimous adoption by the Society of Wetland Scientists of an Ohrid Declaration on Wetland Protection.
Details on the Declaration are available here. In the meantime, here are some of the outstanding messages from this morning’s well-attended press conference, where statements were given by Prof. Dr. Jos Verhoeven (SWS); Prof. Trajce Talevski (Ohrid SOS); Mayor Jovan Stojanoski (Municipality of Ohrid); Aleksandar Nastov (National Ramsar Committee of Macedonia); and Aleksandar Trajkov (Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality of the University St Kliment Ohridski)…
On the importance of Lake Ohrid & Studenchishte Marsh…
“You have a natural jewel in your hands. You should be very proud, but also very careful with it.” — Prof. Dr. Verhoeven encapsulates how beauty and responsibility are intrinsically entwined in the UNESCO Ohrid region.
“Studenchishte Marsh is a crucial part of the lake.” Aleksandar Trajkov underlines the relationship between Studenchishte and Macedonia’s primary tourism site.
“The most important values of the wetland are still there. We saw it yesterday in our field visit.” Representing a 3,000-member strong expert organization, Prof. Dr. Verhoeven puts to bed the debate about whether Studenchishte Marsh still has anything to offer.
“This region has universal values and this is why we want to transform our national priority goals into regional goals through cooperation with international institutions.” Aleksandar Nastov illustrates how the Outstanding Natural Values of Lake Ohrid and Studenchishte Marsh interlink through and transcend various levels of human society.
On tourism and development…
“You need sustainable strategy to make sure the marsh shines in the future.” Prof. Dr. Verhoeven suggests how Macedonia’s wetland superstar can shine even brighter in the coming years.
“It’s your challenge to work with the increasing number of tourists without destroying resources, since preserving resources creates more income.” Dr. Verhoeven sets a challenge for Mayor Stojanoski and policy-makers in Macedonia.
On the future of Studenchishte Marsh…
“Increasing the size of Studenchishte Marsh & intensifying its connection to the lake should be something you aim for in the future.” Verhoeven ratchets up the pressure for meaningful protection of Lake Ohrid’s final significant shoreline wetland. Note the reference to the size…
“We are dedicated to making Studenchishte Marsh an open museum for interaction with nature and creating a new, authentic and attractive tourist product.” Seemingly endorsing the soon-to-be-upgraded Ohrid SOS vision for Studenchishte, Mayor Stojanoski steps forward with a strong statement on the future of the wetland.
“We call upon the Macedonian authorities to substantially enhance the protection of Studenchishte Marsh and designate it as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.” SWS reiterates its position on the appropriate direction for Lake Ohrid’s underrated nature dynamo.
“In our political program we clearly defined the protection of the marsh as our goal by the end of 2018.” Mayor Stojanoski draws attention to a deadline that Ohrid SOS will be watching. Closely.
On science and policy…
“We are happy that we heard today maybe the best opinion on the management options for the marsh.” Mayor Stojanoski suggests that SWS advice may finally be getting through to decision makers in the Ohrid region.
“The recommendations from the scientists have to be implemented. It is the only way to wise management.” Ahead of the release of the Society of Wetland Scientists’ Ohrid Declaration, Mayor Stojanoski indicates willingness to abide by its tenets.
“I hope that policy creators will take into consideration expert advice and decision-making processes will be based on wetland scientific facts.” Aleksandar Trajkov displays the growing awareness of the importance of science-based wetland attitudes in the tourism sector.
“When authorities deviate from the correct path, it is our duty as aware citizens to stand in their way.” Prof. Talevski sends a universal message to everyone everywhere.
“I speak today as a representative of Ohrid SOS who will fight every government imposing crazy plans.” Talevski emphasizes how Ohrid SOS will be devoted to the protection of UNESCO Ohrid-Prespa no matter what or who or when or where or whatever.
“We should raise our voice and voice our opinion even when we are not asked.” When it comes to wetland protection, the advice from Prof. Dr. Verhoeven is to stop whispering, start shouting.
On Ramsar Site designation…
“We hope for the designation of a trans-boundary site together with the Albanian neighbors.” Prof Dr. Verhoeven reads a letter from Tobias Salathe of the Ramsar Secretariat, encouraging transboundary Ramsar designation at Lake Ohrid.
“The Macedonian government has adopted the information for the importance of this region and its Ramsar nomination.” Aleksandar Nastov confirms that the Republic of Macedonia is seeking to finally bestow the international recognition that Studenchishte Marsh and Lake Ohrid deserve.
“We are very encouraged that the government is willing to nominate the region as a Ramsar Site.” Prof. Dr. Verhoeven reacts to news that Lake Ohrid and Studenchishte Marsh, after decades of waiting, may truly soon receive official designation as a Wetland of International Importance.
On Ohrid SOS…
“It’s only because of the activities of Ohrid SOS that we are here today.” Dr. (Verhoeven)
“Thank you Ohrid SOS and EDEN for contributing so much to the Ramsar nomination of this region. We would like very much to continue our fruitful cooperation.” (Aleksandar Nastov)
“Special thanks to Ohrid SOS that raised their voice for the protection of the marsh.” (Mayor Stojanoski)
“I’m very excited to hear these words from the mayor. It’s the first time that we have been praised for our efforts. So far we have been labelled as traitors and enemies of Ohrid.” (Prof. Talevski)
Follow the latest, including news of the SWS Ohrid Declaration, via Twitter on #SWSEuro2018.