2 MAY 2018: Wetland scientists from all over world are visiting Macedonia’s Studenchishte Marsh for a field trip today. Their opportunity is to see rare and unique sights at a wetland that has been slowly capturing global attention in recent years.
However, there are many things that Studenchishte and Macedonia should be able to share with them that it currently lacks the power to do. Here are just a few of them:
Nesting Birds: Since it is springtime, you would expect huge volumes of waterbirds to be nesting at such an important wetland as Studenchishte. Not so many years ago, that is exactly what visitors would have seen too. However, although 52 bird species are still recorded for the area, very few are still willing to hatch chicks there. They no longer feel it is a suitable place to raise their children…
Happy Fish: Studenchishte Channel still harbors at least 14 fish species at different times of year, including some that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. However, once upon a time, these species would have been able to enter Studenchishte Marsh, which they used for spawning and shelter. Carp were known to breed at the wetland and even the famous Ohrid trout would swim its spring branches. This is no longer possible.
Lake Connections: There remains a relationship between Studenchishte Marsh and Lake Ohrid, but the lines of contact have been severely damaged like a bad phone line when not all of the words can still get through. Several of the channels that used to allow communication between the two have been lost or interrupted, which is a key reason why healthy and diverse fish populations are no longer seen.
Rare Plants: With its habitat variety and carpet of plant communities, Studenchishte Marsh is a very special kind of garden. However, of 10 particularly rare and relict plants that used to be seen in the wetland, 5 are believed to be locally extinct with two more in danger of going the same way.
More: The area of Studenchishte proposed for protection as a Monument of Nature is 63.97 hectares, but it used to be much, much larger. A sizable portion of its former glory has been absorbed into agricultural and concrete, roads, buildings and tourism facilities.
If all that seems a little gloomy, it’s important to remember that, not only does Studenchishte still display a species rich habitat on the shores of a global superpower lake, but also that many of these forgotten wonders can be brought back with a little care and attention.
Water channels can be reestablished; buildings can be relocated; waste can be removed; plant populations can be re-encouraged; and the fish and birds will return if their habitat is restored again, offering healthier fisheries, clear lake waters, and new tourism products to humans in return.
Then, visitors will be able to see and appreciate the UNESCO Ohrid region at its irreplaceable, total World Heritage best.
Follow the SWS European Conference at Ohrid, Macedonia via Twitter on #SWSEuro2018.