The government of Albania has designated as its fourth Wetland of International Importance its portions of Prespa Lakes international park, which is coordinated in conjunction with authorities from Greece and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The boundaries of the new Ramsar Site, called Albanian Prespa Lakes (Liqenet e Prespes Shqiptare) (15,119 hectares, 40°51’23”N 20°56’43”E), follow those of the Albania National Park for the aquatic components of the site, which is formed by a high altitude basin (max. 2287m asl) located in the southeastern Balkan Peninsula in the Mediterranean biogeographical region.
As summarized by Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Europe, Ms Laura Máiz-Tomé, based on the accompanying Ramsar Information Sheet, the site includes the two inter-linked lakes, Macro Prespa and Micro Prespa, and is characterized by tree-dominated wetlands, seasonal freshwater marshes and flooded agricultural lands, permanent rivers and creeks, canals, drainage channels, freshwater springs, subterranean karst and cave hydrological systems. The terrestrial ecosystem is dominated by the Mali i Thate (Dry Mountain) calcareous massif that extends south from the Albanian-Macedonian border.
The fauna and flora is characterized by not only high diversity but also a high level of endemism. The site is internationally important for globally endangered bird species such as Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), and it supports diverse and endemic fish, mammal and amphibian communities. The lakes play an important role in groundwater recharge and sediment trapping, and the main economic activities within the site are agriculture, livestock raising, fishery, forestry and tourism.
Threats to the ecological character include eutrophication caused by intensive agriculture practices and the introduction of alien fish species for recreational fishing, which has also contributed to profound modification of the natural ecosystem of the lake. A management plan is currently in preparation.