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Mr.

NikolaBakraeski
MayoroftheCityofOhrid
DimitarVlahovStreetNo.57
6000Ohrid
R.Macedonia

Utrecht,Netherlands,October7,2015

RespectedSir,

OnbehalfoftheSocietyofWetlandScientists(SWS),wewouldliketoexpressourconcernaboutthe
recentplansfortheStudenchishtaWetlandarea.TheSocietyhasaworldwidemembershipofmore
than3,000wetlandprofessionalswhosemissionistopromoteunderstanding,conservation,
scientificallybasedmanagementandsustainableuseofwetlandsthroughouttheworld(see
www.sws.org).WehavebeeninformedaboutthecurrentplanforStudenchishta,whichisadeviation
fromtheearlierestablishedGeneralUrbanPlanforthetownofOhridandenvironsandthebroader
SpatialPlanforMacedonia,whichproposedtheareaasaNaturalMonument1.Wehopetomakeyou
awareofthecurrentservicesandbenefitsprovidedbythewetlandtothepeopleoftheregionandthe
potentialimpactsanychangetothemanagement/protectionofthisareamightincur.

WewanttostresstheimportanceofthiswetlandtotheintegrityoftheLakeOhridecosystemandfor
protectingoveralldiversityofplantandanimalspecies,aswellas,otherbenefitsthewetlandprovides.
Althoughthewetlandisnotparticularlylarge(75ha),itisoneoftheveryfewwetlandsremainingon
theshoresofLakeOhridwhichretainsitsbasiccharacteristicspeciesandfunctionality2.Themajorpart
ofitisapeatland,withpeatlayersof5m.Thesepeatlandscouldbeinexcessof5,000yearsoldand
haveparticularrelevancebecausetheirstorageofcarbonhasacoolingeffectonoverallclimatic
conditions.Recentstudieshaveshownthatsuchacarbonstorageservicecanhavesignificantmonetary
savingsformunicipalities3.Furthermore,giventhehistoricalandculturalimportanceoftheLakeOhrid
area4,asacknowledgedbytheUNESCOWorldHeritagedesignation(2010)5,thepeatdepositsarelikely
toretainarecordofpalaeoclimaticandarchaeologicalsignificance.Suchintactpeatlandshavebecome
particularlyrareinthispartoftheworldandthusareworthyofprotection.Thediversityofplants,
butterflies,dragonfliesandotherfaunagroupsinthewetlandhavebeenfoundtobeparticularlyhigh
includingmanyrareandendangeredspecies.Thereareotherbenefitsprovidedbythewetland,suchas
improvementofthequalityofthewaterfeedingLakeOhrid,thepresenceofgroundwaterspringsand
theprovisionoffeedingandspawninghabitatforanumberofcharacteristicfishspecies.Asasignatory
totheRamsarConventiononWetlands,Macedoniahascommitteditselftothewiseuseandprotection
ofallwetlandsandassuchshouldseektoavoidfurtherlossanddegradationoftheseimportant
habitats.

WeareawarethataninitiativehasbeenproposedtodraintheStudenchishtawetlandtofacilitate
buildingalargemasstourismfacility.ThisappearstounderminetheOhridGeneralUrbanPlanwhich
identifiedtheareaasaspecialsitetobeprotected.Asdocumentedabove,thelossofthiswetland
wouldbeanextremelyunfortunatesocialandecologicaldevelopment.Theoriginalintentiontoprotect

theintactnessoftheLakeOhridareaanditsconnectedshorelineecosystemswasawisedecisionthat
shouldnotbechanged.WewanttourgeyoutoreconsiderthechangeoftheGeneralUrbanPlanasfar
astheStudenchishtaWetlandisconcerned.Webelievethatthisareaneedstobeprotected.
Furthermore,werecommendrestoringtheStudenchishtatoitsoriginalextentandtoexplore
opportunitiestooptimizethebenefitsthatitsbiodiversityprovidestothepeopleoftheOhridregion.
Forinstance,developingsustainableecotourism,supportedbyavisitorcenterandgoodeducational
facilities,enhancingofthehabitatvalueforfish,offsettingcarbonemissionsthroughpeatland
restorationandoptimizingtheabilityofthewetlandtocleanwaterbeforeenteringLakeOhrid.

Weappreciatetheopportunitytosubmitthisletterasatimelyresponsetothesituationathand.While
thisletterpresentsalimitednumberofreferencestothepublishedliterature,weareplanningtodrafta
StateoftheResourcereportwithanextensivereviewofthescientificliteratureontheecosystem
servicesofStudentchishtawetland.WeintendtomakethisavailabletoyoubyMay2016.

Withoursincererespectandwishingyouwisdomtocometoaviablesocialandecologicallysustainable
decision,

JosT.A.Verhoeven,Ph.D.,SocietyofWetlandScientistsEuropeChapter,President
EcologyandBiodiversity,UtrechtUniversity
Padualaan8,3584CHUtrecht,TheNetherlands;j.t.a.verhoeven@uu.nl

Alsoonbehalfof:

KimberliJ.Ponzio,M.S.,P.W.S.,SocietyofWetlandScientists,President
St.JohnsRiverWaterManagementDistrict
P.O.Box1429,Palatka,FL,USA32178

JamesPerry,Ph.D.,SWSImmediatePastPresident
VirginiaInstituteofMarineScience,CollegeofWilliamandMary
GloucesterPoint,VA,USA23062

KeithEdwards,Ph.D.,SWSEuropeChapter,Secretary
UniversityofSouthBohemia,eskBudjovice,CzechRepublic

MatthewSimpson,Ph.D.,SWSEuropeChapter,Treasurer
WWTConsulting,Wildfowl&WetlandsTrust,Slimbridge,Gloucestershire,GL27B,UK

RobMcInnes,Ph.D.,SWSEuropeChapter,Member
RMWetlands&EnvironmentLtd.,6LadmanVillas,
Littleworth,Faringdon,Oxfordshire,SN78EQ,UK

OhridSOSCitizenInitiative,https://ohridsos.wordpress.com/

.
STUDYABOUTTHECONDITIONOFTHEREMAININGSTUDENCHISHTE
MARSH.http://www.scribd.com/doc/258498562/STUDYABOUTTHECONDITIONOFTHEREMAINING
STUDENCHISHTEMARSH
3
GouldsonA,SColenbrander,ASudmant,NGodfrey,JMillwardHopkins,WFangandXZhao.2015.Accelerating
lowcarbondevelopmentintheworld'scities.WorkingPaperNewClimateEconomy
(www.newclimateeconomy.net);BlancoN,KMeek,RGasper,MObeiter,SForbesandNAden.2014.Seeingis
believing:CreatinganewclimateeconomyintheUnitedStates.WorkingPaper,WorldResourcesInstitute
(www.wri.org).
4
KostoskiG,CAlbrecht,STrajanovskiandTWilke.2010.Afreshwaterbiodiversityhotspotunderpressure
assessingthreatsandidentifyingconservationneedsforancientLakeOhrid.BiogeosciencesDiscuss.,7,53475382
http://www.biogeosciencesdiscuss.net/7/5347/2010/bgd753472010.pdf
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AnimportantobligationassociatedwiththedesignationistheprotectionandsustainabledevelopmentofOhrid
LakeanditsBasinasuniquewhole.Tothisend,theLawontheManagementofWorldNaturalandCultural
HeritageintheOhridRegion(OfficialGazetteoftheRepublicofMacedoniano.75/10)wasenactedin2010.