The Prespa National Park and the entire region are dominated by the aquatic ecosystem of the lakes, the mountainous terrestrial ecosystems surrounding the lakes and comprising the
watershed basin of the entire area.

Overview of species composition and their endemic and endangered status.


No of Species

No of Endemic Species

Red List of AL

IUCN Red List

Status  EU-Habitat /Bird Directive

Plant species











not listed



6 Balkan endemic

4 En
4 R
6 VU

3 VU
9 NT

Annex II

Annex IV

Birds in total
Breeding Birds



1 En
1 T
4 VU
6 R
7 K
3 I

1 VU
2 NT
129 LC

28 Annex I
6 Annex II/1
17Annex II/2
4 Annex III/1
1 Annex III/2



5 Balkan endemic


1 NT

5 Annex II
14 Annex IV



4 Balkan



2 Annex II
6 Annex IV




1 VU
3 LR

1 CR
2 EN
6 VU
4 LC
2 DD


The vegetation of the terrestrial ecosystem is composed by forests and anthropogenic formed grasslands.

Detailed vegetation studies, providing fairly comprehensive reviews, have been undertaken in all countries sharing the Prespa region. (Pavlidis, 1997) The studies indicate that the entire Prespa region hosts unique biotopes which are important from a European conservation perspective. Extensive deciduous evergreen forests of Ostryo-Carpinion orientalis, evergreen box-juniper shrub lands, and beech and beech-fir forests are found on the eastern and southern slopes of the catchment basin.
The evergreen conifer forests along the Albanian and Greek part of Prespa are significant for conservation and consist of 12m high and straight trees of Juniperus foetidissima and J. excelsa. The extensive beech and beech–fir forests of the FYR of Macedonia are also considered important for conservation. As far as the wetland ecosystems are concerned, the littoral zone of Lesser Prespa is covered with extensive reedbeds (Ass. Phragmitetum predominates) with several open water areas covered by aquatic vegetation. The morphology and structure of wetland ecosystems favour breeding and feeding of rare water bird species.

The aquatic ecosystems of the region are rich in endemic species such as the Prespa barbel (Barbus prespensis), the Prespa nose (Chondrostoma nasus prespensis) and others. In total, 23 fish species are recorded; 13 of which are non-native actively or passively introduced species. Of the 10 indigenous fish taxa identified, 4 species (Barbus prespensis, Chondrostoma prespensis, Chalcaburnus belvica, and Gobitis meridionalis) and 6 sub-species are endemic to the Prespa Lakes or to the Balkans.

With about 270 bird species, the avifauna of the Prespa lakes basin is highly diverse. Recent surveys revealed 132 breeding birds within the boundaries of the Prespa National Park. Additionally, during the winter season, more than 20 bird species spend the cold season on the lake. During the summer season, the lakes are inhabited by the global  dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus). With about 700 breeding pairs, the colony belongs to the biggest breeding colony in the world. They are associated with white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus), and are currently breeding only on the Greek side but forage on all parts of the lakes. The latest census of breeding birds revealed more than 1 100 breeding pairs of both the Pelican species (Malakou, 2011pers. communication). The pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus) is now categorized as least concerned, but at its western boundaries of distribution, is breeding and wintering in the Prespa region. The Greek Prespa is also the only breeding area of the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) in the European Union, while the globally endangered Ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) breeds in the Ezerani Lagoon in the FYR of Macedonia, and Lesser Prespa in Greece. These bird species among many others use the whole surface of the two lakes in all countries as feeding grounds.

The water surfaces of the lakes are important wintering sites for waterfowl of the Palaearctic realm. The importance of the Prespa lakes and the corresponding wetlands for birds has been widely documented during the last thirty years, and has recently been aptly summarised by Hearth and Evans. A summary of simultaneous counts of wintering birds has been published by Catsadorakis et al (2012 in press). Based on the richness of waterfowl, the Macedonian and Greek sides of the lake system are recognised as wetlands of international importance by the Convention on Protection of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar, 1971). The Ramsar designation in Greece is based primarily on breeding and wintering populations, whereas in the FYR of Macedonia, the designation is based on feeding species. In the meantime, Albania has nominated parts of the Prespa Lakes as Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention (June/2013).

Furthermore, the Greek side of the wetland system is considered a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Birds Directive of the European Union (79/409/EEC), and is part of the Greek contribution to the NATURA 2000 network of protected sites according to the Directive for the Conservation of Natural Habitats of Wild Flora and Fauna (92/43 EEC).

First Survey on Terrestrial Breeding Birds
2011 (
. 2011 and 2012)

Habitat preference (terrestrial, water ecosystems)

Presence (NP Prespa, Surrounding area)

Biological Status (regarding presence)

Status (Bird Directive)

Birds of Europe (SPEC Category)

IUCN red list (world)

21 W

131 NP

7 F

28 Annex 1

29 Non-SPECe

1 VU

111 T

1 S

3 B?

6 Annex II/1

53 Non-SPEC

2 NT



122 B

17 Annex II/2

32 SPEC 3

129 LC




3 Annex III/1

15 SPEC 2





1 Annex III/2

3 SPEC 1


A complete list of the currently recorded breeding birds is given in Table 85.

The lakes area hosts endangered mammal species, such as bears (Ursus
), wolves (Canis lupus), and most probably the Balkan lynx (Lynx
).Up to now, no record of the Euroasian nor the Balkan Lynx could be found on the Albanian side of the lakes areas.

There are also 25 recorded species of bats in the region. Among these are 9 species that are
either threatened with extinction, or are classified as vulnerable (Myotis natter, Nyctalus leisleri, N. noctula, Rhinolophus ferrum-equinum, R. euryale, R. hipposideros, R. blasii,
Tadarida tenoites and Vespertilio murinus
).  Furthermore, the otter (Lutra lutra) is reported to be common in the lakes area, however detailed population studies are still not exisitent.