28 JUL 2018: Together with Star Lagadin, an organization of local residents established to fight uncontrolled urbanization on the UNESCO Lake Ohrid shore, Ohrid SOS has participated in a peaceful protest that forced members of Ohrid Municipality to pay attention to ecologically illiterate construction in the region by having to walk through a giant banner marked MORATORIUM in order to reach their assembly.
Precisely, municipality staff had to enter the building through the O of MORATORIUM, a gaping hole which symbolized the non-implementation of Recommendation 6 from a 2017 Reactive Monitoring Mission Report by ICOMOS, the IUCN and the World Heritage Centre.
Recommendation 6 requests a moratorium on ANY urban and coastal transformation in the Ohrid region World Heritage Site until functional control systems are in place. It was upheld by UNESCO World Heritage Committee Decision 41 COM 7B.34 at its 2017 conference in Krakow.
The mission from which the moratorium request emerges was conducted to the Ohrid region last year due to concern about the trajectory of its natural and cultural values, and nineteen suggestions to prevent the region from falling onto the List of World Heritage in Danger were provided to the Republic of Macedonia’s government.
However, both Star Lagadin and Ohrid SOS are alarmed that, despite a deadline for moratorium implementation of 1 February 2018 and a second IUCN report that identifies uncontrolled urbanization as a major threat to Lake Ohrid’s world-unique ecosystem, construction is continuing at various locations around the shore. Indeed, new plans have even popped up for a 40-hectare development on the east coast.
One particular bugbear is a half-completed hotel in the village of Lagadin, which is linked to tourism giant TUI Netherlands*. Permission for the hotel has been rescinded on three occasions due to several legal infractions, yet building still moves forward brick by brick, seemingly oblivious to the system of law that is intended to prevent it.
Alongside recent coastal destruction in the vicinity of Struga and the gradual encroachment on key habitat at Sveti Naum’s Zone of Strict Protection, the hotel is unequivocal evidence that a moratorium and review of construction policy is the only way to prevent large-scale ecological deterioration at one of the most beautiful and species rich lakes on Earth.
* TUI Netherlands was initially responsive to Ohrid SOS, but became uncommunicative after it was informed that construction was continuing in spite of the quashed permit and UNESCO Recommendation 6. While repeatedly promising to answer Ohrid SOS’s concerns over a period of months yet never in fact doing so, TUI has failed to explain its position regarding the hotel.