Macedonia's Second National Communication - December 2008

Introduction

The creation of a National Communication offers countries the opportunity to contribute with technically sound studies and information that can be used for designing mitigation and adaptation measures, and project proposals that can and will help increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. Activities generally include: V&A assessments, Greenhouse Gas Inventory preparation, Mitigation Analysis or Education, and awareness raising activities.The ultimate goal is the integration of climate change considerations into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

Macedonia’s economy is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Macedonian economy, accounting for 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2006. Temperature increases and reductions in annual rainfall could adversely affect this sector. The yields of important crops such as winter wheat, grape, and alfalfa, for example, are expected to decrease as a result of climate impacts. Macedonia’s nature-based tourism is also particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, forestry in Macedonia is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, potentially causing significant economic damage.

Project Details

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is located in south-eastern Europe. Often referred to as “The Pearl of the Balkans,” Macedonia’s cultural heritage, combined with its beautiful natural landscape, makes it an attractive destination for tourists. The natural landscape, however, is sensitive to climate change. Some of the proposed adaptation measures include: introducing water-saving irrigation measures, soil and water conservation, genetic and plant breeding measures, and the introduction of climate change-resistant plant species.

Macedonia’s climate is characterized by warm, dry summers and autumns, and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfall. Macedonia is an elevated plateau, consisting of mountains, deep basins and valleys. The Dinaric Alps extend down into the Macedonia. Macedonia also contains three major lakes and the River Vardar which divides the country. The alpine zone of Macedonia is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, attributable to the most intensive air temperature rise in the alpine and subalpine regions. Climate change is expected to alter the natural habitats for high mountain species, threatening the survival of some species such as the Sand Lizard and the Alpine Dunnock.

Macedonia’s economy is highly dependent on climate-sensitive sectors. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the Macedonian economy, accounting for 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2006. Temperature increases and reductions in annual rainfall could adversely affect this sector. The yields of important crops such as winter wheat, grape, and alfalfa, for example, are expected to decrease as a result of climate impacts. Macedonia’s nature-based tourism is also particularly sensitive to the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, forestry in Macedonia is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, potentially causing significant economic damage.

Sectoral Analyses

Agriculture

The sub-sectors of crop production, soils, and animal production are involved in the vulnerability analyses. The most important findings and recommendations relate to crop production. Hence, the following can be summarized regarding the expected yield decrease for vulnerable areas and crops as result of climate change impact.

In Stip, where most important crop is winter wheat, yield decrease could reach 17% in 2050. Yield decrease in alfalfa in Bitola could reach 62% in 2050, as with yield decrease in apples in Resen and grape in Kavadarci regions (50%). The most dramatic projections are for yield decrease in tomatoes in Gevgelija (78% in 2050). The projections are prepared with the assumption that crops will be planted without irrigation.

The total direct economical damage from yield decrease for winter wheat, grape, and alfalfa will amount to almost €30 million in 2025 and will increase up to €40 million in 2100. The adaptation measures involve introducing water-saving irrigation measures, soil and water conservation, genetic and plant breeding measures, new agricultural practices, etc.

Climatic conditions, especially the increase of air temperature and aridity, will affect soil organic matter decline and acceleration of organic matter decomposition. Spatial distribution of cultivated soil with intensive loss of organic matter partially overlaps with most vulnerable agricultural areas like Central Povardarie and Ovce Pole.

The most important recommended adaptation measures are: application of organic fertilizers (manure, sideration), cultivation of legumes for enrichment of the soil, etc.

Soil erosion is also expected to accelerate due to climate change. The most vulnerable identified regions of cultivated soil are: Central Povardarie, especially the area of the confluence of the Crna and Bregalnica rivers with Vardar and South Povardarie.

Identified adaptation measures are afforestation of the sloping terrain, implementation in practice of new irrigation techniques which enable efficient use of water, etc. Climate change will also contribute to an increase of soil salinization. As a result of higher air temperatures and reduced precipitation, and consequently higher evaporation and evapotranspiration, increase of salt content in soils is expected. The most vulnerable areas to soil salinization are parts of Ovce Pole and Pelagonija, especially if intensive irrigation is utilized. Adaptation measures are related to the control of the salt-rich groundwater level by reducing the quantity of surface and ground water, drainage of micro-depressions in the valleys, etc.

Animal production in a broad sense is affected directly and indirectly by climate change.

Direct effects from an increase of air temperature cause heat stress over domestic animals, which lowers their production, especially related to modern high productive breeds that are already adapted to local environmental conditions.

Indirect effects can be foreseen from the projected decrease of the forage production, and emerging of diseases. Reduction of local production of animal food will significantly affect the ability of livestock production.

To minimize the effects of heat stress three strategies can be adopted, e.g. physical modification of the environment, genetic development of heat-tolerant breeds, and improved nutritional management practices.

Biodiversity

The alpine zone is the most vulnerable to climate change due to the most intensive air temperature rise in alpine and subalpine regions, according to the local climate scenarios. Loss of the alpine belt can be expected; for example Mt. Pelister is estimated to lose its alpine belt within 50 years. Climate change in the region will force the molika/Macedonian pine forest belt to move upwards and to intrude into part of the current alpine pasture belt in which a lot of Oro-Mediterranean and Arcto-Alpine fauna is present now. In that way, a part of the natural habitats for some high mountain species will be lost and threatened with extinction. 

It is expected that the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean elements of the pseudo-maquis will broaden their range towards the central and northern regions of the Republic of Macedonia. However, the extent of the expansion will depend on agricultural activities (especially crop growing and grazing). 

Plant communities which grow in habitats with a high level of underground waterwill undergo significant negative impact due to climate change and they will be threatened with extinction. The lake ecosystem and surrounding wetlands of Lake Dojran will suffer catastrophic consequences due climate change, mainly because of previously recorded water regime disturbances. Negative climate change effects threaten flora and fauna from the other two natural lakes, Ohrid and Prespa.

The most important adaptation measures involve: preservation of the last remaining riparian communities (Periploca, Salicetum albae- fragilis, Juglando-Platanetum, etc.) in the Vardar valley; elaboration of a distribution map of the major ecosystem types, map of biomes, and mapping of habitats and vegetation types; development of sufficient network of meteorological stations; strengthening the capacities of the staff.

Forestry

The possible climate change impacts on the forestry sector are: More intensive process of forest dieback, particularly in the fir and oak belt; Increased population of some pests (particularly insects and fungi), because of physiological stress of trees; Migration of tree species towards higher altitudes and change of floristic composition of current forests; Increase in number of forest fires and burned area.

These impacts will increase expenditure in the forestry sector and are expected to cause significant economic damage.

Economic damage caused by forest fires in July 2007, including expenses for their extinguishment have reached €21 million (estimation made by P.E. ‘Macedonian Forests’), i.e. approximately 75% of the damaged caused in the period 1999-2005.

The most important adaptation measures involve: adjust forest management to climate change, through introduction of forest species and planning measures, improvement of the species composition of forests (natural and afforested) with endemic tree species, resistant to climate change; strengthen preventive measures that improve and minimize the risks of fires; increase monitoring and observation pilots in the most vulnerable and economically valued forests.

Health

Due to climate change, over the next decades, a decrease by several percentage points in the total annual monthly mortality in some of the colder months is expected (January 4%, October 4%, November 2%). On the other hand, in the warmer months an increase of 4-11% of the total annual monthly mortality is expected (mostly in April, May, June and it will be an average of 10% higher than the period 1996-2000).

Persons with health problems, especially cardiovascular and respiratory diseases have a high risk of increased mortality during heat waves. Deprived communities, lacking wealth, social institutions, environmental security, and robust health, are likely to be at greatest risk of adverse health effects from climate and other environmental changes.

The projection for 2030 of the seasonal index by months for food-borne diseases caused by salmonellosis, due to air temperature rise, shows two peaks in the summer months and one possible peak in winter months because of decreasing the average monthly temperature in the future period;

The most important adaptation measures involve: control and monitoring of the entire food chain; implementation of a Weather Early Warning System to inform the population in time, particularly vulnerable groups, about extreme weather events; education, awareness raising, and creation of legal frameworks, institutions, and an environment that enables people to take well-informed decisions.

Tourism

Mountain and lakeside tourism are the most attractive in the country. On the other hand, these destinations are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change, as they are nature-based tourism destinations and all outdoor tourism activities are dependent on favourable climate conditions.

The summer season could be extended as a result of the temperature rise, but also larger water consumption is expected in tourist destinations (especially the Crn Drim catchment). However, increased duration of peak periods and heat waves can have adverse affects on water quality. Bigger water consumption would require provision of new potable water supply resources, and construction of new sewage systems for both households and industry, especially for tourist destinations. Inevitably, energy consumption will increase, also as the need for cooling of indoor premises becomes essential with the temperature increase.

The increase in the wintertime temperature, accompanied with less snow coverage and a later start to the skiing season, will have a negative effect on skiing as a main winter tourist attraction. Bearing in mind the shortening of the skiing season, financial losses are possible, unless artificial snow-making takes place.

In order to respond to climate change, the tourist industry will have to shift towards new attractions, such as from skiing to hiking during the winter, but also horse riding, improvement of the spa tourism, and linkages with the cultural and natural heritage during other seasons.

Water Resources

The rate of reduction of the effective rain for 2050 is assessed at around 15% for the regions under the prevailing mountainous-Alpine climate impacts (represented by the stations at Lazaropole, Popova Sapka, and Solunska Glava), around 20% to 23% for south-western part of Macedonia under the continental climate impacts (represented by the stations at Ohrid and Resen), and around 35% to 40% for other regions of Macedonia. The reduction of the average annual discharges is the most pronounced for the river Bregalnica at the Stip hydrological station and for the river Strumica at the hydrological station of Novo Selo, i.e. in the region with a moderate-continental-sub-Mediterranean climate. The percentage of average annual discharge reduction for the period 2000-2003, compared with the decade 1961-1970 is 36 to 58%.

Oscillations in the minimum, average, and maximum annual water levels for the Dojran and Prespa lakes show an extreme drop in the water levels of both lakes that started almost at the same time (in 1986) and had almost the same duration (until 2002). These oscillations in the water levels occurred as a result of the anthropogenic impact and change of the climate. In the last few years, due to extremely bad climate conditions, the water level of the lakes has again reached its minimum.

Performed analyses have confirmed that climate change conditions have had a negative impact on the water quality, regarding all three aspects: a) reduced hydrological resources leave less dilution flow in the river, leading to degraded water quality; b) higher temperatures reduce dissolved oxygen content in water bodies; and c) in response to climate change, water uses, especially those for agriculture, may increase the concentration of pollution being released into the rivers.

The assessment of the future climate change effect on the rivers Vardar, Treska, and Bregalnica, performed with MIKE SHE software, shows a decreasing trend of annual discharges of approximately 4% for Treska, 11-16% for Vardar and Bregalnica up to year 2050. Mean reduction of available water resources for 2100 in the Bregalnica catchment area could reach 24% compared to the 7% decrease in the Treska catchment area. More frequent drought periods are expected and storm waters with increased intensity, and total national water availability (Vardar catchment area) is expected to decrease by approximately 18% by 2100.

High priority adaptation measures are proposed in the following domains: irrigation and water supply of population, floods and droughts, erosion and sedimentation, water resources’ management; water quality and monitoring.

The most persisting constraint and gap is data availability, consistency, and transparency. Existing monitoring in climate and ground water conducted by the Hydro-Meteorology Service in the country is facing permanent problems in operation, slow modernization of equipment, reducing of monitoring network, etc. Soil monitoring does not exist, as well as groundwater monitoring. Basic maps and databases are very old and/or hardly available (soil map, vegetation map, land-use map, etc.). Modern tools for vulnerability assessment are needed almost in all vulnerable sectors (hardware, software, and training of personnel).

Opportunities for implementation of adaptation measures are related to accumulated knowledge and awareness among scientific community about climate change and knowledge about vulnerable sectors and adaptation measures. One very important opportunity, especially in the agricultural sector, is the accumulated experience to cope with drought and high temperatures and existing indigenous technologies and crop varieties used in the country.

Decision makers, especially from the MOEPP, are aware of the problem and there is interest for adaptation strategies. Recently the NGO sector became more interested in climate change issues especially due to the GEF Small Grant Programme that is supporting activities in climate change operational programmes. On the other hand, the barriers lie in the capacity constraints at systemic, institutional, and individual levels.

An Intersectoral Adaptation Action Plan was developed for the period 2008-2011. It involves four major areas: institutional and legal measures; identification, assessment, and mitigation of climate change negative impact; monitoring; strengthening capacities at institutional, systemic, and individual levels.

Also, some specific projects were proposed for financing: three from the water resources sector, one from agriculture, and two from biodiversity. Further efforts should be employed in order to set national criteria and to make prioritization among and within the vulnerable sectors. The most attractive projects would be those coming from the highest priority sectors and also from the intersection of two or more vulnerable sectors (synergetic approach). The linkages with climate change mitigation should also be considered, as well as possibilities for realization of the adaptation projects at the regional level.

Source: Macedonia 2nd NC (December, 2008)

Climate-Related Hazards Addressed: 
Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
Through improved identification of national circumstances, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Government of Macedonia
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project Status: 
Completed
Location: 
Urban
Funding Source: 
Financing Amount: 
420,000
Co-Financing Total: 
410,000

Key Results and Outputs

  • Sustainable development and the integration of climate change concerns into medium- and long-term planning
  • Inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases
  • Measures contributing to addressing climate change
  • Research and systematic observation
  • Climate change impacts, adaptation measures and response strategies
  • Education, training and public awareness

Reports and Publications

Monitoring and Evaluation

In 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to cooperatively consider what they could do to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with whatever impacts were, by then, inevitable.

Parties to the Convention must submit national reports on implementation of the Convention to the Conference of the Parties (COP). The required contents of national communications and the timetable for their submission are different for Annex I and non-Annex I Parties. This is in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" enshrined in the Convention.

The core elements of the national communications for both Annex I and non-Annex I Parties are information on emissions and removals of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and details of the activities a Party has undertaken to implement the Convention. National communications usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessment, financial resources and transfer of technology, and education, training and public awareness.

Since 1994, governments have invested significant time and resources in the preparation, collection and validation of data on GHG emissions, and the COP has made determined efforts to improve the quality and consistency of the data, which are ensured by established guidelines for reporting. Non-Annex I Parties receive financial and technical assistance in preparing their national communications, facilitated by the UNFCCC secretariat.

Contacts

UNDP
Yamil Bonduki
Coordinator, National Communications Support Programme (NCSP)
UNDP
Maja Azievska
Project Affiliate