Since 1991, the Society for the Protection of Prespa has systematically and effectively contributed to the protection of natural and cultural heritage throughout the entire Prespa basin, by means of a wide range of projects jointly promoting viable development and the harmonious co-existence of man and nature. Its activities aim to secure the appropriate management of natural resources, sustainable forms of rural development, the protection of threatened species and public awareness-raising. From the beginning the SPP has understood that to safeguard Prespa’s exceptional heritage and promote viable development in the area requires the co-operation and involvement of the three states that share the lakes. Accordingly its efforts have been guided by this principle, aiming wherever possible to emphasise their transboundary nature, emphatically recognised by the respective Governments with the establishment of the Transboundary Prespa Park in 2000.
Moreover, the SPP’s work has been guided by the central principle that conservation cannot be carried out effectively in areas such as Prespa if it isn’t based right from the start on at least a fundamental understanding of the basic interactions between the ecological, social, cultural and economic values and issues in those areas. In ecology, and in conservation too, we constantly have to deal with systems of interacting entities, a fact which should be fully understood and always kept in mind. The majority of protected areas in the Balkans and all around the Mediterranean are socio-ecological systems. Particularly in closed and relatively isolated basins, like Prespa, the majority of conservation issues should definitely be tackled under an integrated ecosystem approach, but we also have to acknowledge that those ecosystems have been, or – in most cases – continue to be, affected by the presence of people and their activities. Man has been, and still is, very much an indivisible part of these ecosystems.