Community consultation launched in the Lake Ohrid region

An ICCROM-led workshop has marked the beginning of a consultation campaign in the Lake Ohrid region, involving a local team of volunteers from both the Albanian and Macedonian sides. This campaign supports the EU-UNESCO project, “Towards strengthened governance of the shared transboundary natural and cultural heritage of the Lake ”. It will seek to offer a final ‘transboundary’ contribution to the future management of this World Heritage property and its proposed extension by drawing on stakeholder knowledge and capacities. The aim is to highlight opportunities that will bring benefits to both the communities and the heritage in the Lake Ohrid region, in line with sustainable development goals.

Held in Ohrid (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and in Pogradec (Albania), the launch workshop brought together the transboundary team of volunteers together with ICCROM consultants to ensure that the proposed methodology was adapted to the regional situation and local needs. A strong base for the research already existed thanks to previous ICCROM collaborations in the region, including a trial questionnaire, values mapping and the insights gained from a course on People-Centred Approaches to the Conservation of Culture and Nature.

Over the next few weeks, the team will carry out a questionnaire with local residents. The aim will be to increase understanding of the local socio-economic situation, as well as the community assets and stakeholder aspirations that could contribute to more participatory heritage management. It is also hoped to secure new insights regarding the array of heritage values that define the Lake Ohrid region today. While local community members are the main target of this research, select interviews with institutional stakeholders and a logbook capturing the views of visitors to the region will provide complementary data.

Once analysis is complete, approaches will be suggested that can support participatory management planning processes across the proposed transboundary World Heritage property. Existing and potential capacities that reside within the local community will be identified to arrive at potential contributions to heritage management and conservation. It is also hoped that this campaign will help inform future capacity-building initiatives in the Lake Ohrid region within the World Heritage Leadership Programme.