|Country||Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of|
|Date||8 Sep 2014|
The sponge Ochridaspongia rotunda (Arndt, 1937) is endemic to Lake Ohrid, the oldest one in Europe. This yellowish-brownish species (30–70 m depth) has no close relatives in the current living world (relic form). Its local trivial name is 'shetsherparé' or 'shekerparé', a Turkish word that means sweet cake. O. rotunda was very abundant in the 1950's. However, it is now classified as threatened species. To date, international conservation efforts have mainly concentrated on tropical corals while much less attention has been paid to freshwater sponges. On the other hand, the sponge O. rotunda serves as an important recorder of the past increasing our understanding of changes in the lake environment. Thus, there is a need for appropriate protection and conservation of Lake Ohrid and its wildlife as a whole in order to preserve natural heritage of the Ohrid Region, protect biodiversity and maintain key ecosystem dynamics.
Towards this end, the project 'OrO' – part I is designed to attract the best trainees (primarily, students at university) in order to make regional teams (placed in Ohrid, Belgrade and Podgorica, respectively) who might work together in the future with the enthusiastic peers from Albania and Greece on this particularly important and demanding issue. That would be a long-lasting contribution to nature/biodiversity conservation.
The Natural Product Society 'Singidūn', a NGO in formation, aims to make a solid and long-lasting platform for natural product chemists communication, planning and action at international level. The special emphasis will be put on the science popularisation activities targeting the younger population and related biodiversity issues, respectively. 'Future Natural Products', one of key society actions, will be hardly insisting on living creatures protection suggesting alternative bio-resources worthy of investigation. There is indeed a realistic hope that natural product chemists may have find 'a treasure chest' in various kinds of so-called 'industrial trash'.
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