The International Waterbird Census results estimate a presence of more than 160.000 birds in wetlands of Albania, represented by more than 65 waterbird species. Many species of global conservation concern were observed this year, such as Pochard (Aythya ferina), Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca), Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis), Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus), Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Curlew (Numenius arquata) and Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) proving the importance of Albania for migratory bird species.
The yearly Waterbird Census was done on 14 and 15 January in Albania by 12 national and international experts under the coordination of Dr Taulant Bino, on behalf of Birdlife International. Supported by the EU funded project NaturAL, this was a great opportunity for the rangers to learn more about the management of natural resources within and around the protected areas they safeguard. All offices of Regional Administration for Protected Areas were involved participating as counters or observers in the Census, and providing logistical support to participants. As a preparation for the Census, one day training was delivered by Dr Spase Shumka, Dr Taulant Bino and Mjrian Topi to the rangers on 12 January respectively in Pogradec, Kune-Vain, and Orikum.
The Census covered 18 selected sites and its findings will be made available to the public and the scientific community through the BioNNA database. These results will guide the Ministry of Environment and National Agency for Protected Areas in their work on the formulation of policies and strategies for conservation of nature and biodiversity, and protection of the ecosystem services.
Wetlands are the most important habitats for migratory birds. Spending summers in Europe, they move to warmer wintering places in the south by the Mediterranean Sea and in Africa. Many of them rest in Albania and along the Adriatic coast on their way to Africa, creating the so called Adriatic Flyway. The Narte Lagoon is for example known as the one of the important wintering sites for many bird species, most abundant being ducks (Anas sp.) and Coot (Fulica atra). Divjaka-Karavasta is a home of rare Dalmatian Pelican (Pelicanus crispus Bruch), hosting 5% of the world's population of this pelican. Kune-Vain, Patok, Lalzi bay, Velipoje are wetlands also important for migratory birds, such as Herons (Fam. Ardeidae), Ducks (Anserids) and Waiders of many different species.
Each species contributes to the global biodiversity and consequently to the ecosystem services that nature provides to all living beings. Joining this international initiative, Albania once again confirms its important role for the protection of global biodiversity. The efforts put in place jointly by the Regional Administration of Protected Areas and the National Inspectorate are fundamental to ensure the safe journey of the migrant species, their existence and contribution to the ecosystem balances.
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