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Galichitsa –another victim of the urban mafia?

With the amendments to the management plan for the National Park “Galichitsa”, construction of a ski resort, an expressway and three tourism development zones on the shores of the lake are being planned for construction.

These huge construction works in the heart of Galichitsa are threatening to destroy the unique biodiversity of Galichitsa, despite the confirmation of domestic and foreign experts that the destruction of the mountain would mean the slow destruction of Prespa and Ohrid Lake.

“Ohrid Lake is one of the most diverse lakes in the world, and the most prominent of all the old European lakes. It is characterized by a highest number of endemic species per area in relation to any old lake in the world. The destruction of the banks of the lake and reed belt through construction activities, increased infrastructure and increased tourism, will cause the destruction of large parts of the habitat of the unique fauna of the lake. “, states the analysis of Dr. Bernd Wagner of the University of Cologne.

CIVIL Media spoke with Elena Nikolovska from “Ohrid SOS”, civic initiative, who has had continuous attempts to contact the Municipality of Ohrid, but also JUNP “Galichitsa” from the first moment when they announced the removal of the current level of protection of the most vulnerable areas of this mountain, the urbanization of the Public Institution National Park “Galichitsa”. Their daily encounters with bureaucracy and ignorance of public institutions are not providing results.

sa2“After the public hearing held in September, ‘Ohrid SOS’ along with several civil organizations have sent comments to the revised Strategic Environmental Assessment – SEA on the draft – amendments to the management plan for the National Park” Galichitsa “. We have not received an answer from the competent institutions”, Nikolovska says.

“The disabling of a constructive debate continues with the scheduling of the fifth debate on the revised SEA which was held on the 4th of January 2016, during the holidays, not allowing the citizens sufficient time to be informed, which constitutes a direct and insolent violation of the Aarhus Convention. This Convention is an international document that guarantees citizens access to information in decision-making in the field of the environment”, added Nikolovska.

After the public hearing, “Ohrid SOS” finally managed to extend the deadline for submitting comments on the website of JUNP “Galichitsa” for one month, until 12th of February. Just as the citizen activists started thinking that maybe there is hope to find understanding with the relevant institutions, the comments section on the website was non-functional for a few days.

If we take into account that the mountain Galichitsa on which the National Park “Galichitsa” resides (defined as extremely important region of the international organization -Union for Conservation of Nature and therefore protected by law since 1958), and knowing that the meadows of Galichitsa are home to 1644 species of butterflies and 800 species of flora with high biological value, the motive for the destruction and laying concrete on this biosphere reserve can only be assumed.

CIVIL – Center for Freedom supports Ohrid ecologists and citizens who are committed to rescue one of the Macedonian pearls – Galichitsa, from which the view of the two lakes “is one of the most beautiful in Europe.”

Marija Tegovska

 

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