Theory into Practice — a tour worth taking

25 Apr 2014

 “This has been a great hands-on experience! Prespa is stunning and what UNDP is doing to restore the lake is stunning—especially the problem of eutrophication.“

Mehdi Tarik, a third-year student of Environmental Engineering, is one of a group of twenty students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne who are spending a week in the country. The students are visiting sites throughout the country where projects have been funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

“It’s great for students to see how environmental protection theory is applied in practice and how challenges that occur in different contexts can be overcome,” said Professor Chantal Seignez. “The way Lake Prespa Lake is being restored, with a focus on protecting the water quality and promoting eco-tourism instead of mass tourism, is an example that should be followed”.

All of the students were impressed with the country’s natural beauty. “The choice of coming here turned out a great idea,” says Max Mentha, the leader of the student group. “The landscape is really breath-taking. It reminds you why you decided to spend your life protecting the environment.”

The group spent a whole day in Prespa, hearing from the expert team about what the Municipality of Resen, UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation are doing to help ensure a sustainable future for Lake Prespa, including large-scale reforestation to combat the effects of erosion, the introduction of wetland restoration techniques for controlling floods and filtering the water of the Golema Reka river, as well as nature-based upgrades of wastewater management—all improvements aimed at significantly reducing the pressures on the lake, finally bringing the detrimental process of eutrophication under control and ensuring a much better chance of survival for the many rare and endangered species living in Prespa.  

“Eutrophication is a problem throughout the world,” says Mehdi, “And the way you’re tackling it is something we’ve learnt a lot from by being here on the ground.”

Mehdi’s fellow student, Christel Chappuis, agrees: “This is exactly the type of project I’d like to work on after I graduate,” she says. “Prespa is a place that all of us concerned with the environment would want to preserve for future generations.”