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 invested a great effort to support protected areas and initiate the establishment of the Natura 2000 network in the country.
“In 2015 protected areas administrations were inexistent and now we have in place an entirely functional system, managing 18% of the country’s territory. The number of protected area visitors has significantly increased. These are successful testimonies of the government’s policies and investments in place, including the contribution of NaturAL project,” said Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi during the conference ‘Towards Natura 2000 in Albania’. This event gathered on 16 and 17 April 2019 international and national experts, academia, research institutions, government representatives and project stakeholders to share knowledge and discuss next steps related to nature protection, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
“By aligning with EU standards Albania is progressing towards the EU accession and tackling the topics related to the environment and climate change. NaturAL has done an important job initiating the work related to the identification of preliminary sites to be included in Natura 2000 network,” said EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca during his address, speaking at the conference on behalf of the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Fisheries and Environment Karmenu Vella.
Initiated in 2015, at the time of the establishment of the National Agency of Protected Areas in Albania, NaturAL provided a strong push and instrumental support to the improvement of management of protected areas in the country and initiated the establishment of Natura2000 network in Albania, focusing on:
The experts emphasized that the only way to create a more competitive, resilient economy is to embrace the protection of our natural environment and to maintain a sustainable balance between our resources and the ambitions related to the way we want to live. Stress was put on the ecosystem services and their economic impact.
“Our achievement in the last 4 years is the joint work of international and NAPA’s experts in the field that worked hard to transform the idea that existed on paper into real life protected areas. Passion guides our work in protected areas, where nature should be prioritized over economic development,” said Zamir Dedej, Director of National Agency of Protected Areas.
Present at the closing conference Italian Ambassador to Albania Alberto Cutillo stressed that we should continue finding ways to engage with stakeholders and manage protected areas for the benefit of nature and society. Now that the project is coming to its end, participants were called to continuously support the positive results of the work of National Agency of Protected Areas and its staff protecting ecosystems and ensuring sustainable tourism development in protected areas and supporting the economic benefit for the community.
To see photos from the event go to the Gallery
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