News and Announcements

September 7, 2017
Four days in Korab-Koritnik

In the past 3 years during implementation of the NaturAL Project, a number of scientific expeditions have been undertaken, with the purpose to identify potential sites that might be part of Natura 2000 network. Expeditions focus on researching flora and fauna species as well as their habitats, both crucial for the survival of biodiversity. With reference to the 5 primary and 5 secondary protected areas, primarily covered by the project, expeditions involved RAPA’s staff as part of the capacity building program aspect “On-the-job training”.

The expedition of this group of zoologists, that I joined, was organized from 01st – 04th of August 2017 in the Natural Park of Korab - Koritnik. The first day of the expedition began with a surveying a part of the park near the village of Rabdisht. High temperatures did not create much expectation to see many species. All along the road was a scenario of warfare, a network of water pipelines created by families from the nearby village. Everything around the pipes plunged into drought. On our right we could see a canal of a dried up torrent. In the background call of the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius) could be heard in the forest close to us. We had to walk a few miles until we saw some scats of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus). At sunset, we were surprised and happy to see the traces of brown bear cubs (Ursus arctos), most likely. Not a bad finding considering that the conditions were almost impossible for survival of these species.

The second day consisted of setting up Sherman traps in places we identified on the previous day, with which we could monitor the presence of hazel dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) and the edible dormouse (Glis glis). The pitfalls were set so that they covered the whole area of interest and were less visible. Inside the traps we put some food that contained peanut butter and different seeds that would attract interested species. Presence of large mammals such as the wolf, the bear, the roe deer, and the fox were also observed in the monitoring of the surrounding area.

During the third day the expedition we went back to the trip to Lake Grama on Korabi Mountain. The road that led to it was broken, and during our way we found several fox scats (Vulpes vulpes) and heard the calls of some important bird species . The landscape offers wide views of the pastures and livestock that graze tax  in the vicinity of Lake Grama. In front of the lake was  smoke coming out of the old pine forest. It was unavoidable to see a considerable amount of waste left by visitors to the area. Around the lake Grama is a wetland which, on a very small surface, provides habitats for some surprising species such as Triturus alpestris, Rana ridibunda, Bombina variegata at different stages of their development. All areas provide important habitats for some types of amphibians and reptiles. It was surprising to see swallows at heights of 1800 m , who were running away from high temperatures, which were reaching almost 40°C even as such high mountain ranges. High numbers of infects, especially  grasshoppers, was also noted. In the second part of the day we moved near Rabdisht to check on Sherman traps for the presence of hazel and edible dormice. After checking the traps, we added food to them and restored them to re-check the next day.

The next day, at last,  some dormice  fell into the traps, whereas in the previous days lizards were the only passer-byes. Baring in mind physiological adaptation of reptiles it is not surprising that they were the only visitors  during  scorching temperatures at the time.  These  few days of expedition are described in a very simple way. In reality, such days carry hours and hours of work, analyses that are then translated into reports used to guide practices and policies in order to ensure continuity of nature conservation and further preservation of standards compatible with EU directives and international conventions. However, looking beyond all the procedures and fulfillment of yone's goals or tasks, the inevitable question is: To what extent is the importance of Protected Areas understood by the general public? 

While the zoologists were controlling the Sherman traps, the noise of a chainsaw was heard from some distance in the woods. This explains the reason why this natural environment needs to be tended for.  The villagers tend to see the surrounding natural environment them as something that needs to be exploited, rather than  protected. 
A zoologist from RAPA team approached the villager:  “How are you? Is everything fine? Did you know that this is a Protected Area and you cannot cut the trees?”. The villager’s face turned towards us with the greatest disregard, typical of someone who has nothing to lose by answering: “This is my land! My father bought it with gold, I will do what I want to!!”.

From the other side the pines were devoured by flames, and it seemed that the war with the “land’s heirs” will be long, and it has only just begun. 

Article by Artenisa Peçulaj

Go to Gallery

Latest news

May 27, 2019

Scholarship opportunity for PhD programme in the field of environment

PfK offers a unique opportunity for future leaders and influencers to develop professionally and academically, network extensively, experience Italian culture and build lasting positive relationships with Italy. The PfK PhD program provides a total of 19 MSc scholarships and 6 PhD Fellowships in the period 2019-2022 for citizens of Kenya, Mozambique, Tunisia, Pakistan, Albania, Lebanon and Ethiopia. The call for PhD applications for PfK scholarships is now...

Read more

May 1, 2019

Llogara-Karaburun-Orikum-Mt. Cika – a model for Natura 2000 in Albania

In the process of joining the European Union, candidate countries such as Albania, must transpose into their national legislation the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives, the two legal pillars of Natura 2000 network. This process has been initiated in Albania within NaturAL, through consultative workshops with national biodiversity experts and participatory exercise with stakeholders and groups of interest that resulted in a preliminary list of...

Read more

April 17, 2019

Atlas 'Bats of Albania' published

Supported by the EU funded project NaturAL and led by Philippe Théou, rangers and experts from the Regional Administration of Protected Areas were monitoring the bat species occurrence in protected areas of Albania for several years, to understand them better and to assure more effective management of their habitats. The newly published Atlas: Bats of Albania summarizes the results of their work that confirms the importance of Albania for bat conservation in...

Read more

April 17, 2019

Towards Natura 2000 in Albania

Natura 2000 is the centrepiece of EU nature policies - the largest coordinated network of protected sites in the world. In Albania, the national network of protected areas covers 18% of the territory. Despite being on a steady rise, the Albanian system of protected areas is facing numerous challenges and threats, stemming from the country’s fast development in recent years. To help address these issues, NaturAL project partner organizations and experts have...

Read more

April 16, 2019

Brochure: Achieving reduced biodiversity loss in Albania

Initiated in 2015, at the time of the establishment of the National Agency of Protected Areas of Albania, NaturAL provided a strong push and instrumental support to the improvement of management of protected areas of Albania. Four years later, it is time to reflect on its achievements. 2015 and 2019 assessments of protected areas indicate the increase of protected areas management effectiveness from 34 to 58%. The implementation rate of respective management plans...

Read more

March 25, 2019

Dajti Mountain Visitor Centre - another milestone for Albania’s Protected Areas

A new Visitor Centre is welcoming tourists and visitors at the “Natural Balcony of Tirana”, one of preferred destinations for everyone that visits the capital of Albania. “Preserving natural resources and raising awareness about the rich biodiversity of Albania is fundamental for the development of a more environmental-friendly tourism model and culture. The kind of tourism that builds on nature conservation to support sustainable...

Read more


IPA 2013 - Natura 2000 and Protected Areas
Torre Drin, 5 Floor
Tirana, Albania
Tel: +35542240880/1/2/3