The destruction of the natural habitats or their endangerment to a degree when the animals and the plants have no basic conditions for sheer survival has become the gruesome reality of the modern society. Man’s need to usurp and use the resources only for his needs is one of the biggest threats to the biodiversity. Despite the dangers lurking from the climate change that is causing temperature hikes and droughts due to the decrease of the rainfalls, in order to survive the living world must also overcome man’s irresponsibility and recklessness.
The direct consequence of this recklessness is the red lists of endangered species getting longer and longer. North Macedonia has an extraordinary, but seriously endangered biodiversity. Within the country’s borders, there are around 22,000 species out of which, 1,000 are endemic. There are 82 species of mammals, 332 species of birds, 32 species of reptiles and 15 species of amphibians. There are 3,200 species of plants, over 2,000 species of fungi and algae and 500 species of moss. Many of them are on the brink of the extinction, and for most of them a heavy battle is being waged.
The best known, the Balkan Lynx, for more than one decade has been preoccupation of the Macedonian Ecological Society, to which we have to be thankful for the present state of having 50-some healthy adult animals. Then there are the vultures, two species of which are now extinct in North Macedonia – the Bearded Vulture and the Eurasian Black Vulture, while another two species – the Egyptian Vulture and the Griffon Vulture – are still nesting in North Macedonia. But, there are tens of species of plants, insects, fungi, birds and other species that are seeing their habitats dissapear everyday, taking away their chances for survival.
The meadows are most endangered – the agriculture and the climate change take their toll!
The threats to biodiversity are analyzed in detail in the national Strategy for the Bological Diversity with an Action Plan, says Metodija Velevski of the Macedonian Ecological Society (MES), who stresses the fact that the most heavily endangered habitats are the meadows in the valleys, on the mountains and the wetlands, which support an extremely rich biological diversity.
They are disappearing due to the changes in the traditional farming practices, the conversion into farmland, as well as due to changes in hydrological conditions that have resulted from the climate change, but were also caused by people by capture of the water springs. This results in species extinction or in significant population declines.
The majority of the animal species that are connected with these habitats аrе invertebrae, especially the butterflies, orthopterans, pollinators – bees and bumblebees, and many species of birds. On the other hand, many specialized species are also disappearing, not because of loss of habitat, but because of changes i.e. worsening of its quality. For example, the extensive hunting and the poaching of large herbivore animals lead to the decrease of the population of predators, such as the critically endangered Balkan Lynx. The selective logging of dead, old or sick trees from the forests lead to decrease and extinction of certain species of woodpeckers and Old World Flycatchers. Additionally, the water pollution impacts a wide specter of taxonomic groups and species, one of the most vivid examples being Zingel balcanicus, a fish species that lived all across the Vardar River and now its habitat is limited to the cleaner parts of the Treska River and is probably going to be extinct, stressed Velevski. .
It would be best if the concessionaires of small hydro power plants at Shar Mountain back away
Mankind must abandon the current practices and to limit the single and collective gains that come from the economic use of the resources, Velevski notes.
Therefore, it would be great if the Government manages to reach an agreement with the investors in the small hydro power plants at Shar Planina to back away from the granted concessions.
The new national park should bring gains for the whole local population and not just for the investors. The strongest sale value of the park is its beauty. The small hydro power plants, as well as other facilities, roads, etc. only blemish this value as an addition to the negative effect on the biodiversity. The preserved biodiversity and the preserved areas are those that will bring tourists to visit Shar Mountain and who will lodge at local facilities, will be enjoying local products and who will joyfully recommend a visit to their friends. If all they will see upon their arrival are roads and pipes, they will neither return nor will mention to anyone where they have been and what they have seen, Velevski says.
The laws are good, but their implementation is not
The laws of this country are good, but the problem is in their implementation and the obeyance, Velevski says. Almost all activities of the MES are strategically directed toward increasing the state, formal response toward the needs for the protection of the nature or the environment. MES usually identifies the problems in the field, prioritizes them in accordance with the capacities and resources and is trying to motivate the state institutions to deal with these, while simultaneously strengthening their capacities.
For example, we identified long ago the use of poisons in nature as a serious problem for more types of birds and we are working on the strengthening of the institutions so that they may be able to deal with this problem, stressed Velevski.
He considers that it is very important to integrate the protection of the nature in the remaining sectors like agriculture, forestry, transport, energy production and to plan timely. In the beginning, the investments might seem huge, bigger but even as such they will be smaller compared to any later implemented measures for the revitalization of the habitats and the species. Every person, whenever visiting nature should implement only one general rule: “Bring back home nothing but photographs, and leave there nothing but footprints.”