29 May 2020

Endemic plants of Prespa receive a conservation boost

The Prespa region, spanning parts of Albania, Greece and North Macedonia has incredible floristic diversity. These two new funding awards aim to protect plant species found nowhere else on earth and launch the careers of budding conservationists.

Centaurea soskae © Vlado Matevski
Centaurea soskae © Vlado Matevski
By Oliver Avramoski, PONT

In January 2020, Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust (PONT) and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) published a joint Call for Proposals for grants inviting eligible organisations to address the sustainable management of water catchments and conservation of plants in the wider Prespa area.

Applications from NGOs and academic institutions from Albania and North Macedonia were evaluated in a two-stage process: the applicants whose concept notes were selected by the joint evaluation panel of PONT and CEPF were then invited to submit full grant applications.

Following the completion of the second stage of the evaluation process, PONT and CEPF awarded two complementary grants concerning the conservation of endemic plants restricted to the Galicica/Mali i Thatë mountain, spanning the borders of Galicica National Park, in North Macedonia, and Prespa National Park in Albania.

The grant to the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Art (MASA) concerns the conservation of six vascular plants species in Galicica National Park. A complementary grant to ILIRIA - Protection and the Social & Environmental Development Association focuses on the conservation of ten vascular plant species in Prespa National Park. Most of the selected species occur on both sides of the border.

Prespa National Park © Lulezim Shuka

Both grants support actions at site level, such as updating and amending the management plans for the parks, establishing a regular monitoring system, and implementing specific in-situ conservation actions. At the national-level, the grants will enable relevant authorities to update their national red lists and conservation policies. Updating the Global IUCN Red List by publishing the assessments for the plants meeting the criteria will contribute to the international-level conservation policies. Both grants are designed to foster a new generation of young professionals in plant conservation through training and networking of universities and academic institutions within the two countries.

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The work will be implemented from June 2020 to December 2021, with MASA and ILIRIA working together as project partners in close cooperation with the respective protected area and national authorities, as well as local stakeholders.


PONT is a foundation established under German Law, supporting Protected Areas and Environmental Actors in the Wider Prespa Area in North Macedonia, Greece and Albania, with the mission to “provide long term financing for the conservation and sustainable management of biological diversity, natural processes and ecosystem services in Prespa and its wider area for the benefit of nature and people in the region”. For more information about PONT, its mission, approach and programme please visit: www.pont.org.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation, for more information please visit: www.cepf.net.

Additional funding to the CEPF small grant programme in the Balkans is provided by the MAVA Foundation, which will be used to extend CEPF’s reach and further empower the smaller grassroots organizations.


CEPF is more than just a funding provider

A dedicated Regional Implementation Team (RIT) (expert officers on the ground) guide funding to the most important areas and to even the smallest of organisations; building civil society capacities, improving conservation outcomes, strengthening networks and sharing best practices. In the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, the RIT is entrusted to BirdLife International and its Partners LPO (BirdLife France), DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia) and BPSSS (BirdLife Serbia).