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 proposed 43 Sites of Community Importance.
“It is of great importance for national authorities not to underestimate the scientific work required to gather the necessary data to propose a coherent list of sites for all the habitats and species listed in the Directives,” says Vito Emanuele Cambria from the University of Padua, Italy that lead the work on Natura 2000 in Albania. “To assure the availability of scientific data at national and local levels necessary to continue the implementation of Natura 2000, as a first step the experts constantly feed their field research results into the Albanian Biodiversity Database (BioNNA),” he explains.
Practical and collaborative exercises in the identification process of Natura 2000 sites, also involving local stakeholders, were carried out through workshops and trainings. The principles of Natura 2000 were explained by showing effective methods of assessing habitat and species reporting and conservation status, mapping of natural and cultural values, elaboration of management and monitoring plans. Eighteen national experts and National Agency of Protected Areas and Ministry of Tourism and Environment staff are trained on methodology and procedures on monitoring, reporting and evaluation of data according to Natura 2000 standards and familiarized with the requirements and procedures of the European Commission.
In the area of Llogara-Karaburun-Orikum-Mt. Cika a model was developed specifically targeting the need of a spatial definition of the boundaries of a Natura 2000 site. In this respect, two workshops were held, the first one in 2018 in Llogara National Park and the second one in 2019 in Orikum, Vlore, both following a participatory approach engaging the participants (staff of local PAs, local community, tourism agencies, fishermen and shepherds, local decision-makers, biodiversity experts) through individual and group sessions. The common objectives of these multi-actor sessions were to discuss the identified natural values, to quantify socio-economic advantages of habitats and species, enhance the links between natural values’ distribution and stakeholder’s knowledge and expectations, identify current and potential threats to natural ecosystems and identify solutions that would balance the conservation needs and socio-economic development of the focused Natura 2000 site (pSCI AL000001 “Llogara-Karaburun-Orikum-Mt. Cika Complex Site”) and design the best fitting boundaries accordingly.
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