Lake Megali Prespa

Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
A large freshwater lake shared with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (site 006) and Greece (site 047). The total area of the lake is 27,000 ha. Up until the recent past the lake used to form one lake with Lake Mikri Prespa (IBA 004), but is now separated and 3 m lower in altitude. The Albanian sector of the lake has no marshes or reedbeds. All the surrounding areas are cultivated.

Key biodiversity
The lake is of high importance for wintering waterbirds. A total of 12,000 individuals were counted in January 1996, including Phalacrocorax pygmeus, 171 Podiceps nigricollis, 1,268 ducks of six species and over 10,000 Fulica atra. The importance of the site for migrating birds is not known. Because of lack of shore vegetation, and disturbance, the Albanian part of the lake is of minor importance for breeding waterbirds but it is part of the foraging area of several species breeding in Macedonian and Greek parts of the lake, including Pelecanus crispus, Pelecanus onocrotalus and Phalacrocorax pygmeus.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
As a result of human activities, the area has lost much of its ecological value, especially concerning waterbirds. Many of the slopes surrounding the lake and the greater part of the shores have lost or are losing vegetation, mostly as a result of cattle-grazing; erosion is a significant problem that will increase in the near future. The impact of disturbance by fishermen and hunting is unknown. A project, financed by the World Bank with $1.7 million, started in 1998. This aims to create a laboratory near the lake in order to monitor and further study the lake, and to involve local people in monitoring and managing the watershed.

Protected areas
National High International None10,000 ha of IBA covered by National Park.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Megali Prespa. Downloaded from on 07/12/2022.