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Biotourism improves the rural economy

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Prespa lakes: a common heritage and new prospects for development

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Prespa and Korçë are neighboring regions along a semi alpine basin systemfeaturing two major lakes (Great and Small Prespa), rivers, mountains, valleys,villages and towns. A number of protected areas are scattered across themountain sides, including an important wetland around Lake Small Prespa.Endangered endemic species are found throughout these habitats. The culturalfeatures of the area are similarly rare and enchanting.



Logo_prespakorcaThe economic situation in the lake region echoes the stagnant patterns ofmost rural communities in Eastern Europe. Business is slow, prices are rising,and young people are migrating to cities. On both sides of the border,agriculture is the main occupation, with a few services including tourism. Localgoverning bodies are looking at tourism as a key sector to stimulate theeconomy in the Prespa watershed. The area already boasts pristine naturalhabitats and unique cultural elements. What is lacking is the organization of alltypes of services including products, marketing skills and technological literacy,along with the cooperation of communities at both internal and cross‐borderlevels in order to capitalize on their tourism potential.

greece_albaniaIt is vital that environmental and cultural preservation be placed at thecenter of developmental strategies for tourism as well as other sectors. Asnatural and cultural features are the main assets as well as the basis of lives andlivelihoods in the area, creating sustainable and minimally damaging systems isthe way to go. Establishing environmentally responsible tourism includesproviding well‐documented written information for various activities like birdwatching, nature walks and biking. Guided tours for natural and culturalattractions are also important. The cross‐border area is a prime area foragrotourism, that can be promoted through farm stays, tours, or workshops.Many of these tourism features exist in the Greek Prespa area, but need to beestablished to a greater extent on the Albanian side as well.

ileOther than tourism, shifting to organic and sustainable farming is a priorityin the Prespa region. Current farming techniques degrade the soil and affect thewater table by consuming too much water. Lake Small Prespa, especially, hasseen a significant drop in water levels over the past decade. Improving farmingtechniques is necessary for improving productivity and for protecting thenatural resources that farming depends on, ultimately leading to better marketstanding of products. An organic farming operation already exists in GreekPrespa which harvests and packages beans with a growing success in the Greekand European markets. With a main focus on tourism and agriculture, thePrespa region has great potential to become a productive and sustainableBalkan gem. By avoiding overbuilding and preserving the nature
based lifestyle,the people around Prespa can find a balance with nature and save theirtraditions and culture while also preserving their habitats.


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xtensive cross‐border Biotourism project is leading a series of actionsincluding workshops, conferences, and stakeholder meetings to bring together the community and relevant bodies to facilitate improvements in tourism. 

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