Strong cooperation for protected areas of Albania – a time to celebrate on achievements and reflect on future steps

Strong cooperation for protected areas of Albania – a time to celebrate on achievements and reflect on future steps

Wed, 25 Jan 2017

The five years long project “Institutional Support to the management of Protected Areas in Albania” has come to its end, significantly contributing to the progress that has been made in the field of nature protection in Albania. The project - implemented by International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) in partnership with the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA), and funded by the Italian Development Cooperation (AICS) – helped shape new national institutional framework for protected areas, initiate legislative changes and strengthen management effectiveness of protected areas.

“We have done a great work so far strengthening the system of protected areas of Albania, and our partnership with MoE, IUCN and AICS was instrumental in this”, said Mr. Zamir Dedej, Director of National Agency for Protected Areas of Albania. „We will continue to build synergies and explore income-generating potential of protected areas without compromising their preservation“, he concluded.

The project was instrumental in strengthening national protected areas policy by mainstreaming international standards into protected areas planning and management processes. Two project sites, Buna River Protected Landscape (PL) and Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park (NP) were selected for the importance of ecosystem services they provide to the local communities. Their management plans were elaborated in the course of the project actively involving local stakeholders into consultation processes for area-based management planning for the first time in Albania at such a broad scale, and following IUCN WCPA (World Commission on Protected Areas) Management Planning Guidelines.

“There is a great deal of support the authorities need to provide for the establishment and management of the national system of protected areas. What we have seen over the last five years is a major step forward in improving the institutional set-up and management effectiveness of protected areas in Albania. IUCN remains committed to providing necessary advice to the authorities and communities in order to harness the full potential of Albania’s protected area system“, said Mr. Boris Erg, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Some of the notable project contributions to the management of protected areas in Albania are:

•             Standardized procedure for protected area management planning and two management plans fully prepared in line with international protected areas standard,

•             Renovation of protected areas facilities and opening of two visitor centres, as well as the construction of visitor infrastructure and the marking of hiking and cycling trails to advance the sustainable tourism development in protected areas,

•             Provision of instruments and methodologies for management planning and monitoring in protected areas and a national biodiversity database (BioNNA) to facilitate the work of the authorities,

•             Several awareness raising campaigns and educational programmes aimed to build the knowledge of local communities on parks and their values,

•             Online application on protected areas of Albania, launched as an important promotional tool, with data entered for the two project sites.

“Italy traditionally sees Albania as a valuable partner in the region, and will continue to support its sustainable development. Through the project NaturAL, as well as through other new initiatives, we will follow up on the achieved and expand our work now to ten protected areas, while setting the base for the establishment of national Natura2000 network”, said Mr. Nino Merola, Director of Italian Agency for Development Cooperation in Albania.


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