South East Europe National Pilot Projects (Local Development)
Lake Skadar is the biggest lake in South East Europe, forming a natural border between Montenegro and Albania. With the mountains in the backdrop and its small islands, it provides a picturesque view of this unique landscape. An exceptionally rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage is to be found along its shores whose protection, preservation and management are guaranteed by the “Skadar Lake” National Park. The wetlands along the shores with flooded meadows and swamp vegetation represent an important bird habitat, protected as Ramsar site. Archaeological sites testify human presence since ancient times and the abundant historic monuments range from medieval monastery complexes and fortresses, Ottoman fortifications to vernacular architecture of fishermen’s settlements. Traditional craftworks are still practised. Fishing and agriculture are traditionally the main economic activities of the local population. These activities are being increasingly replaced by tourism and a few industrial and commercial activities.
Close to the airport and the coast, this extraordinary natural and cultural heritage was however considered at risk in 2008 when the LDPP started. The increased use of pesticides in agriculture pollutes the water, as do industrial activities. Illegal fishing deprives the lake of its most valuable resource. Illegal landfills harm the natural environment and biodiversity. Inadequate interventions of modern building materials on historic structures damage the historic building substance, destroying its traditional character. Poor employment prospects push the young population to emigrate so that only the elderly remain. More and more settlements are abandoned. Little cooperation exists between the park and private businesses of farmers and fishers who are seldom organised into associations. Obsolete techniques and approaches lead to a low level of production in agriculture and fishing which become secondary activities, though an integrated tourist offer is still missing. Unresolved property rights and business barriers prevent investment. Responsibilities overlap between local and national institutions. The insufficient cooperation and exchange of information between them worsens a situation where change seems unlikely.
The Skadar Lake Local Development Pilot Project started in 2008. It was designed to improve partnerships between local and national stakeholders involved in the territorial development of the Skadar Lake. Different ministries supported the project which was initiated by the Ministry of Culture, and several activities successfully contributed to starting a new participative approach. The Project Implementation Unit was set up and hosted by the Skadar Lake National Park. Significant communication activities were carried out. However, the draft territorial Diagnosis has missed the global objective of the Diagnosis Phase and the document was not validated (2012), which interrupted the LDPP process.