Recommendations of Council of Europe to Ban Constructionon Skadar Lake

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There is no place for luxury resorts on Skadar Lake, said the Council of Europe.

Therefore, at the last session in Strasbourg held at the end of November, the recommendations of Berne Convention on halting the construction of Porto Skadar Lake and the White Village in the National Park “Skadar Lake” were adopted.

“We recommend the Government of Montenegro to stop further construction on land and the coast at the Mihailovići site in the next 12 months. The new Spatial Plan of the Special Purpose of the National Park Skadar Lake should rely on the assumptions of the Spatial Plan of 2001 and proclaim the wider area of Rijeka Crnojevica and the islands of Liponjak and Galići as a zone I of strict protection. The new Spatial Plan of Special Purpose should also declare Poseljanski Bay and Biški rep as a Zone I of strict protection,” the recommendation of the Bern Convention states.

This conclusion is the result of a visit by the representatives of Berne and RAMSAR, i.e. the Convention on the Protection of European Wild Species and Natural Habitats and Wetlands, to Skadar Lake in June this year.

Skadar Lake was on the agenda of the session of the Secretariat of the Berne Convention thanks to the informal association of citizens of Virpazar, who launched a petition in the summer to ban construction on the lake. It was signed by about 13.000 people. Today, however, we were unable to get a comment from the representatives of this association.

After several days of waiting they did not answer our question: if they will act upon the recommendations of the Council of Europe, no answer was received by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism.

GO Green House reminds that Montenegro has ratified both RAMSAR and Berne conventions.

“If these recommendations were violated, this could significantly escalate at the international level and lead to the deletion of Skadar Lake from the RAMSAR list,” says Natasa Kovacevic from Green Home.

Citizens of Virpazar hope, however, that by the arrival of foreign investors to the lake they would finally get roads and jobs.

“I think that they should be allowed to work, with the satisfaction of those standards that are implied, the protection of the lake and the rest…”; “They will offer jobs, and it will look good…”; “Personally, as a citizen here, when I go home and when somebody comes to visit, it would be nice to have better roads and ambience when someone passes by…” are some of the opinions by the locals.

Kovačević says that such comments are not surprising, because the inhabitants of the settlement around Skadar Lake have never been given an alternative that they would benefit from, and the lake remained protected.

“This is an alternative to the development of tourism based on traditional architecture, based on the natural features of the lake, because it is the only curiosity that the lake has. The only alternative offered to them is the mega-touristic infrastructure …”

Although the damage to Biški rep is made, Kovačević believes that it is not irreparable. “This devastated area should return to its former state, and this should be done at the expense of the investors. Porto Skadar Lake is worth around 160 million Euros, and it is planned to have 51 apartments, 30 villas, and its marina. The French investor Lionel Sonigo started preparatory works two years ago, and his opinion on the Spatial Plan of the Special Purpose of the National Park Skadar Lake in late September was supposed to be given by Montenegrin MPs, but the plan was returned for refinement.