Montenegro, 2017


Wild and wet … Lake Skadar national park, Montenegro. Photograph: Alamy

It is now ancient history, but it may as well be yesterday, since I can look at the photo above and it has no less of an impact on me. When Montenegro was still part of what remained of ex-Yugoslavia, La Paz Group worked in partnership with UNDP on a project for the Prime Minister of this soon-to-be independent nation. He was visionary, and wanted to replicate what Costa Rica had accomplished as a small ecologically diverse country–harnessing sustainable development to ensure his country would not become the victim of the forces of mass tourism.

Skadar Lake was the crown jewel in the country’s potential attraction of ecologically-oriented travelers, and the perfect complement to the wild beauty of the coast line and the spectacular mountains. Montenegro has done a very good job in the decades since my first visit to Skadar Lake (standing exactly where the photographer above stood, looking at my own photos from that visit), communicating its commitment to those principles. Nonetheless, the challenges never go away, so we wish them continued success in fighting the dark forces:

Montenegro’s pristine Lake Skadar threatened by new resort

Tourism in Montenegro is booming, but the approval of plans for a new ‘eco-resort’ has led to protests from conservationists who fear it will threaten a stunning national park

by Catherine Mack

Like its Adriatic neighbour Croatia, Montenegro is a rapidly-growing travel destination: in 2016 there were nearly 1.5 million visits from international tourists – up 6.9% on 2015. But although the country is known for eco-tourism and as a “soft adventure” hotspot, tourism development hasn’t been without controversy.

Despite local concern and protests, many concrete resorts have sprung up. In coastal Budva, for example, international developers were recently given permission to convert a second world war concentration camp on Mamula island into a luxury resort.


Pelicans in the Skadar Lake national park Photograph: Sevaljevic/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The latest controversy involves Lake Skadar national park, a protected wilderness area and southern Europe’s largest lake. According to a report in New Scientist, “more than 280 bird species are found at this largely pristine lake, as well as nearly 50 fish species, 18 of which are found nowhere else, earning it a place on the Ramsar Convention list of Wetlands of International Importance”. It is under threat after the government gave the go-ahead for the building of a luxury resort, Porto Skadar Lake. The resort will sleep 600 guests in 30 villas and feature a marina. Several hydropower projects are also planned, on the lake’s major tributary, further endangering biodiversity.

At present, the only thing that disturbs the waters on the shores of the lake is wildlife (including the rare Dalmatian pelican and endangered otters) and the odd monk in a boat from the 14th-century Kom monastery…

Read the whole article here.

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