Lake Ohrid, known as Europe’s oldest lake in North Macedonia and a UNESCO world heritage site, is expected to be declared ‘endangered’ by the United Nations in the coming days due to uncontrolled urbanization and pollution. Life in the lake, which was formed more than 1.3 million years ago, is disappearing day by day due to garbage and pollution. UNESCO stated that illegal buildings, timber and fish farms, the flow of rivers into the lake and indiscriminate road construction have deeply affected the lake.
Lake Ohrid, which was found to have formed 1.3 million years ago and is the oldest lake in Europe, is being given the status of ‘endangered’ by the United Nations in the coming days due to uncontrolled urbanization and pollution.
Lake Ohrid, which was granted the status of a world heritage site by UNESCO forty years ago, is in an important position for Europe with its unique vibrant life, prehistoric ruins and Byzantine churches, while it has a special location that only a few places in the world can have with both its nature and culture.
It is stated that while the living life in and around the lake is endangered due to the increasing garbage and pollution in recent years, the buildings constructed without planned infrastructure, the wastes from the surrounding farms and the haphazard road constructions affect the lake deeply.
A small part of the lake is said to be in Albanian territory, while Ohrid mayor Konstantin Georgieski is at the center of a tangle of local and national government bodies tasked with resolving the issues.
Stating that he frequently met with Albanian and UNESCO officials, Georgieski said that “UNESCO’s decision does not mean the end of the world” and that the heritage status did not bring them any funds.
It is reported that after the disintegration of Macedonia and Yugoslavia in the 1990s, touristic businesses spread to the lake shore, while many hotels and restaurants were built, and many constructions were made without installing a sewer system.
“Everything went to hell in the lake,” said explorer and nature-loving archaeologist Nikola Paskali, who has spent twenty years diving in the lake, while UNESCO has estimated that one-third of the buildings in the Ohrid region pump their waste directly into the lake.
“Garbage is the cancer of the lake,” Paskali said, accusing the government of doing too little to preserve biodiversity in the lake.
While cleaning the lake continues, it is stated that the cleaning process brings risks.
Mayor Georgieski has recently ordered the demolition of many structures built on the lake that serve as makeshift bars and restaurants.
“It’s hard to destroy someone’s property in a small town like ours,” said Georgieski. “Now these people see me as a personal enemy.”
“This is not Ibiza,” adds Mayor Georgieski as business owners say they need to change their mindset.