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Valuing Lake Ohrid

The Valuation of Ecosystem Services of Lake Ohrid, under the GEF Drin Project, was one of the key inputs informing the development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan, now approved by the responsible authorities of Albania and North Macedonia.

Set in a majestic landscape dominated by high ranges and stroked by winds of the Adriatic and the Aegean, Lake Ohrid is protected by UNESCO World Heritage status and shared between Albania and North Macedonia. The  lake sustains economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism and hosts more than 300 endemic species. However, in recent years, it faces a number of challenges such as declining fish stocks, eutrophication, habitat destruction and poor water status. To address these challenges, the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan was developed under the coordination of Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in the frame of the GEF Drin Project, which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin. The development of the Management Plan was the result of a two-year process, informed by transboundary data gathering, including the joint Lake Ohrid water quality surveillance monitoring campaign, an economic analysis and an analysis of ecosystem services in the region.

Ecosystems provide people with a flow of benefits, also termed ecosystem goods and services, which directly or indirectly contribute to human well-being. Such goods and services stemming from ecosystems’ processes may come in the form of various material or energy outputs (e.g. fresh water, food products, timber), but also the ways in which living systems moderate the environment (e.g. climate regulation, water and air quality, pollination), as well as non-material outputs that people obtain from contacts with ecosystems (e.g. recreational, aesthetic or spiritual experiences). The logic behind ecosystem service valuation is to render explicit these values in monetary units, to enable their incorporation in public decision-making processes.

 The results of the Ecosystem Services valuation realised under the GEF Drin project are summarized below. The total value – expressed in monetary units – of the ecosystem services of the Lake Ohrid Watershed in 2017 was estimated at $295.1 million. The unit value per area, taking into consideration the entire area of the watershed, equals $2,102/ha. Within this, the value of services of Lake Ohrid is $63.3 mill, or 21.4% of the total value; the value of services of forests, protected and agriculture areas within the watershed is $35.52 mill. (12% of the Total Economic Value); and the value of services that are related to the entire watershed is $196.55 mill, or 66.6% of the total value.

Total economic value of LOW ecosystem services

The Valuation of Ecosystem Services of Lake Ohrid was one of the key inputs informing the development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan, which has now been approved by the responsible authorities of Albania and North Macedonia. The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is the second transboundary management plan in accordance to the EU Water Framework Directive developed in South East Europe. Its Programme of Measures includes more than 100 measures that will prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystems quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts in the area are included. The Management Plan is prepared to be the official instrument of cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia for the management of Lake Ohrid.

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