Balkanalysis on Twitter Briefing with Macedonian Ecological Society, April 2011

Skopje, Macedonia– On April 15, 2011, Director Chris Deliso conducted a briefing with Danka Uzunova, Project Coordinator of the Macedonian Ecological Society, and Jovan Andevski, Coordinator of the Balkan Vulture Action Plan, in the MES’ headquarters office in Skopje.

In the briefing, Ms Uzunova presented an overview of the past, present and future activities undertaken by the Macedonian Ecological Society (in collaboration with local and international partners and donors) for identifying and cataloguing wildlife species, promoting awareness of ecological issues affecting Macedonian ecosystems, and advocating for ecologically responsible behavior, education and development.

Noting the MES’ successful work with tracking endemic bird populations, Ms Uzunova confirmed the society’s plan to develop the Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (CBMS), in collaboration with the Czech Society for Ornithology. After having become a party to the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme in 2007, Macedonia has gained additional responsibilities and opportunities in this field. Ms Uzunova also noted the significance of tracking bird activity as indicators not only of the health and existence of avian populations, but also as an effective tool for indicating factors such as pollution and climate change.

Adding that several varieties of endemic Balkan vulture species face extinction or near-extinction in several regional countries, Mr Andrevski underscored the importance of taking measures to maintain existing vulture species, which in Macedonia inhabit chiefly the central and southern Tikves and Mariovo regions. With the continued illegal use of poisons on prey animals, added Mr Andrevski, Macedonian vultures remain at risk.

Other environmental dangers, such as the construction or planned construction of low-level dams, also threaten wildlife, noted Ms Uzunova, pointing out the deleterious effect that a new dam on the Brajcino River in southwestern Macedonia would have for the endemic trout species there. A more significant environmental threat that MES will concentrate on is the planned Lukovo Pole dam- to be located within the boundaries of a vital national park, Mavrovo in the west of the country.

Founded in 1972, the Macedonian Ecological Society is a long-established environmental NGO in Macedonia that has a general mission of promoting environmental science, biodiversity and the study and protection of wildlife species. The MES currently has approximately 100 active members, and is active in a variety of fields. Aside from ornithological research and advocacy for environmental issues, other projects include educational activities for children, researching and identifying ‘safe corridors’ for bears, and further development of a pan-Macedonian ecological network.

The Society seeks the implementation of common standards for environmental protection equivalent to those adopted by European Union member states, and enjoys the active support of a variety of sponsors from the level of the European Commission down to partner NGOs or specialist societies from other European countries.

The Balkan Vulture Action Plan was drafted in 2002 as a joint effort of national and international NGOs, with a common interest in preserving the four European vulture species: the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) and Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus). These species have disappeared from some Balkan countries completely and are severely threatened in others.

The Action Plan consists of a range of activities conducted on a short, middle and long term basis, and draws upon available expertise from former vulture recovery projects in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey and the Ukraine. It is expected to be extended to include additional countries in the future.

The Action Plan is promoted by the Black Vulture Conservation Foundation (BVCF), the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the Foundation for the Conservation of the Bearded Vulture (FCBV), with the support of the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), BirdLife International, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), IUCN Europe, the Eastern Griffon Vulture Working Group (EGVWG), the Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation (BEPF) and other NGOs from several countries. is an American research and analysis firm that provides dedicated coverage of the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in areas ranging from politics and security to economics and culture. It draws on the expertise of its broad network of field analysts and reporters representing a number of various countries and professional backgrounds.

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