Technical ReportPDF Available

Marine Protected Areas

Authors:
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Tirana
March 2010
Protected Areas Gap Assessment and
Marine Protected Areas Development Project
PA GAP ASSESSMENT,
MARINE BIODIVERSITY,
LEGISLATION ON PA AND
MPA - FINAL REPORT
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Protected Areas Gap Assessment and
Marine Protected Areas Development Project
PA GAP ASSESSMENT, MARINE BIODIVERSITY,
LEGISLATION ON PA AND MPA
Consolidated Report
Prepared by Lefter Kashta
Tirana
March 2010
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Table of contents
PREFACE.................................................................................................................................................... 9
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT........................................................................................................................ 10
INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................................... 11
1. GAP ASSESSMENT OF THE SYSTEM OF PAS IN ALBANIA............................................... 14
1.1. Background................................................................................................................... 14
1.2. PA gap analysis and establishment of MPA project..................................................... 16
1.2.1. What is gap analysis?............................................................................................ 16
1.2.2. Principles of Gap Analysis.................................................................................... 17
1.2.3. Carrying out a gap analysis................................................................................... 17
1.2.4. Identify Gaps......................................................................................................... 19
1.2.5. Prioritize Gaps ...................................................................................................... 19
1.2.6. Agree Strategy ...................................................................................................... 20
1.3. PA gap assessment........................................................................................................ 20
1.3.1. Background........................................................................................................... 20
1.3.2. International developments................................................................................... 22
1.3.3. State of the game................................................................................................... 24
1.3.4. Recent developments ............................................................................................ 26
1.3.5. Assessing the protected area system..................................................................... 28
1.4. Assessment of protected area management .................................................................. 30
1.4.1. Background........................................................................................................... 30
1.4.2. Assessment of management effectiveness of protected areas............................... 30
1.5. Addressing gaps in protected areas............................................................................... 32
1.5.1. Key issues ............................................................................................................. 32
1.5.2. Actions addressing gaps in protected area system................................................ 34
1.5.3. Recommendations for improving the situation..................................................... 35
2. THE SITUATION ON MARINE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND MPAS IN
ALBANIA .................................................................................................................................................. 36
2.1. Background on marine conservation in Albania........................................................... 36
2.2. Existing coastal protected areas in Albania .................................................................. 37
Buna River - Velipoja ........................................................................................................... 38
Kune - Vaini.......................................................................................................................... 39
Patok – Fushe Kuqe .............................................................................................................. 39
Rrushkulli.............................................................................................................................. 40
Divjake - Karavasta............................................................................................................... 40
Pishe Poro/ Fier..................................................................................................................... 41
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Vjosë – Nartë ........................................................................................................................ 41
Karaburuni peninsula............................................................................................................ 42
Butrinti .................................................................................................................................. 42
3. ANALYSES OF BIODIVERSITY, NATURAL AND CULTURAL VALUES OF THE
PROPOSED POTENTIAL MPAS .......................................................................................................... 43
3.1. Synthesis of knowledge on biodiversity of coastal and marine areas of Albania......... 43
3.1.1. Knowledge on biodiversity of coastal habitats, flora and fauna........................... 44
3.1.2. Coastal vegetation................................................................................................. 45
3.1.3. Marine flora (Seagrasses and Algae) .................................................................... 46
3.1.4. Coastal and marine fauna...................................................................................... 48
3.2. Description of proposed Marine Protected Areas......................................................... 51
3.2.1. Cape of Rodoni - Lalzi Bay-Ishmi Forest............................................................. 51
3.2.2. Cape of Lagji -Turra Castle .................................................................................. 61
3.2.3. Karaburuni peninsula – Sazani island (within the area Llogora-Orikum-
Karaburun-Sazan-Radhimë-Tragjas-Dukat)......................................................................... 67
3.2.4. Canyon of Gjipe.................................................................................................... 85
3.2.5. Porto Palermo........................................................................................................ 90
3.2.6. Kakomea Bay and Qefali Cape............................................................................. 95
3.2.7. Çuka Channel - Ksamili Bay and Islands ........................................................... 100
3.2.8. Pagane – Stillo Cape and Island.......................................................................... 105
4. THE FIRST MARINE PROTECTED AREA PROPOSED FOR ALBANIA .........................110
4.1. Introduction................................................................................................................. 110
4.2. Main environmental features of the Vlora-Karaburunit area...................................... 114
4.2.1. General Description ............................................................................................ 114
4.3. Cultural Heritage Resources ....................................................................................... 125
4.4. Main human activities and related potential threats in the MPA ................................ 125
4.4.1. Sustainable management of coastal settlements ................................................. 126
4.4.2. Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism Development........................................... 126
4.4.3. Maritime traffic and ships anchoring inside or around the MPA........................ 126
4.4.4. Marine tourisme activities (except maritime transport)...................................... 127
4.4.5. Solid Waste management in the MPA and its contiguous zones........................ 127
4.4.6. Sewage water ...................................................................................................... 127
4.4.7. Major oil spill risk............................................................................................... 127
4.4.8. Sustainable fishing.............................................................................................. 127
4.4.9. Fish farming........................................................................................................ 128
4.4.10. Collection of marine invertebrates...................................................................... 128
4.4.11. Rare, endangered and threatened species............................................................ 128
4.4.12. Introduced and invasive species.......................................................................... 129
4.4.13. Scientific research inside the MPA..................................................................... 129
4.5. Administrative and legal elements.............................................................................. 130
4.5.1. National legislation and administration .............................................................. 130
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4.6. Rationale for the first Marine Protected Area of Albania ........................................... 130
4.6.1. The international and national levels .................................................................. 130
4.6.2. The proposed zoning of the Karaburuni-Vlora Marine Protected Area ............. 134
4.6.3. Basic elements for the MPA, declaration, legislation and regulations ............... 137
4.6.4. Conservation principles ...................................................................................... 137
5. THE ACTUAL LEGISLATION RELATED TO MARINE CONSERVATION IN ALBANIA
AND THE PROPOSALS FOR IMPROVEMENT AND APPROACH TO THE RELEVANT
EUROPEAN LEGISLATION ............................................................................................................... 138
5.1. Introduction................................................................................................................. 138
5.2. Legal international framework.................................................................................... 138
5.2.1. The overarching framework for establishing MPAs........................................... 138
5.2.2. Prevention of pollution of the marine environment............................................ 145
5.2.3. The use and protection of species and habitats................................................... 147
5.2.4. Specific tools for the Mediterranean Sea............................................................ 153
5.2.5. European Framework.......................................................................................... 155
5.3. Legal gap analysis....................................................................................................... 162
5.3.1. Legislation on protected areas ............................................................................ 162
5.3.2. Fisheries legislation ............................................................................................ 173
5.3.3. Protection of biological diversity........................................................................ 177
5.4. Synthesis of legal gaps................................................................................................ 182
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................................... 186
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Acronyms and Abbreviations
AL Albania
BSAP Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
ASCI Areas of Special Conservation Interest
AULEDA Aulona Local Economic Development Agency
BIO SAP Biodiversity-Strategic Action Plan for Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
BRI Biological Research Institute
CAMP Coastal Area Management Program
CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
CITES Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species
CHM Clearing House Mechanisms
CNPPA Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas
CoM Council of Ministers
COP Conference of the Parties
CTAAR Council of Territorial Adjustment of the Albanian Republic
CZMP Coastal Zone Management Plan
DCM Decision of Council of Ministers
DFS District Forest Service
DNPP Directorate of Nature Protection Policies
EA Ecosystem Approach
ECNC European Commission National Conservation
EEA European Environmental Agency
EECONET European Ecological Network
EEZ Exclusive economic zone
EIA Environmental Impact Assessment
EU European Union
FRI Fishery Research Institute
FYROM Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FD Fishery Directorate
GBS Global Biodiversity Strategy
GDFP General Directorate of Forests and Pastures
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GEF Global Environmental Facility
GEF/SGP Global Environmental Facility/Small Grant Programme
GES good environmental status
GIS Geographic Information System
GNP Gross National Product
GoA: Government of Albania
GPA Global Program of Action for Protection of the Marine Environment from Land
Based Activities
ICZM Integrated coastal zone management
IFPR Institute of Forests and Pastures Research
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IHM Institute of Hydrometeorology
IMO International Maritime Organisation of the United Nations
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature
K-V-MPA Karaburuni-Vlora Marine Protected Area
LAC Limits of Acceptable Change
LG Local Government
LOSC United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
LPA Landscape Protected Area
MAP Mediterranean Action Plan
MAFPC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Protection of Consumers
MARPOL Convention on Prevention of Pollution from Ships
MB Management Boards
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MEFWA Ministry of Environment, Forest and Water Administration
METAP Mediterranean Action Plan
MKOE MillieuKontakt Ost Europa
MNS Museum of Natural Sciences
MN Montenegro
MoAF Ministry of Agriculture and Food
MoE Ministry of Environment
MoLG Ministry of Local Government
MoTA&T Ministry of Territorial Adjustment and and Tourism
MP Management Plan
MPA Marine Protected Area
NBSAP National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan
NCNB National Council for Nature and Biodiversity
NCSA National Capacity Self-Assessment
NCTA National Council of Territorial Adjustment
NGO Non Governmental Organisation
NSSED National Strategy for Socio-Economic Development
PA Protected Area
PAMU Protected Area Management Unit
PEEN Pan-European Ecological Network
PESBLD Pan-European Strategy on Biological and Landscape Diversity
PLPA Proposed Landscape Protected Area
PoWPA Program of Work on Protected Areas
PSSA Particularly sensitive sea area
REA Regional Environmental Agency
REC Regional Environmental Centre
RFU Regional Facilitation Unit
RNPA Representative Network of Protected Areas
SB State Budget
SPA Specially Protected Areas
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SPA/RAC Specially Protected Areas/Regional Activity Center
TOR Terms of Reference
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Changes
UNDP United Nations Development Program
UNEP United Nations Environmental Program
UNESCO United Nations Education and Scientific Cooperation Organization
VC Visitor Centre
WFD Water Framework Directive
WTO World Tourism Organisation
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Preface
The objective of this project is to implement some of key recommendations relating to country’s
participation in the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) which included the need
for a comprehensive ecological gap assessment for the Protected Area (PA) system, and
establishment of a policy environment and knowledge on marine protected areas.
Despite the sea presence, there is no Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Albania, only national
parks considering mainly terrestrial ecosystems. Marine protected areas are a practical way of
conserving marine biodiversity, maintaining the productivity of marine ecosystems and
contributing to the economic and social welfare of human communities. Establishment of MPAs
and no-take zones will be beneficial for fisheries management as it will seek to make fisheries
sustainable in the long term. In addition, ecotourism development and local economy would
benefit in the short and long run (this will include cost benefit analysis and monitoring).
The project addresses the key gaps of the PA system in Albania in general (by identifying and
planning to cover the key biological gaps), and more specifically marine areas (as this has been
the weakest element of the PA system so far). The efforts will also elaborate the key priority
actions related to the working program on PA that Albanian environment authorities have
identified.
The working group of national and international experts: Violeta Zuna (team leader), Eno
Dodbiba, Saimir Beqiraj, Genti Kromidha, Lefter Kashta, Ermira Koçu, Albana Zotaj, Virginie
Tilot and Nienke van der Burgt (with contribution from Paul Goriup, Stephen Hodgson).
The inputs from thematic study reports cover PAs/MPAs, relevant legal, marine biodiversity and
mapping issues, specifically such as:
The gap assessment of the system of PAs in Albania (Genti Kromidha);
The assessment of marine biodiversity and potential MPAs (Lefter Kashta &
Sajmir Beqiraj);
Proposal for a Marine Protected Area in Albania (Virginie Tilot);
The legislation framework for PA and marine conservation (Ermira Koçu and
Nienke van der Burgt with contribution from Paul Goriup and Stephen Hodgson);
The accompanying maps have been compiled by Albana Zotaj.
The following document represents a Consolidated Report (prepared by Lefter Kashta), which
integrates in a more practical way the contributions of the project team that are mentioned above
and more concretely it:
Evidences the highlighted issues related to gap assessment of the PA system in Albania;
Describes the situation on marine biodiversity conservation and MPAs in Albania;
Describes the biodiversity, natural and cultural values of the proposed potential MPAs
and illustrates the fulfillment of the relevant criteria for MPA proclamation;
Evidences the highlighted issues related to the proposal for the first MPA in Albania;
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Evidences the gaps of legislation related to marine conservation and highlights the
proposals for improvement and approach to the relevant European legislation.
Acknowledgement
This publication was accomplished with assistance and support of GEF,d UNDP Albania and
MoEFWA of Albania.
Contact address: Violeta Zuna, Project Manager/ Team Leader, UNDP Tirana, violeta.zuna@undp.org
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Introduction
Albania is endowed with a natural heritage as rich as its cultural heritage. The country’s future is
dependent on the wise use of its natural resources. The government of Albania is committed to
the conservation of the country’s renewal and non-renewable natural heritage, for the benefit of
present and future generations. The establishment of a National Protected Areas network aims at
maintaining the diversity and viability of the various components of Albanian’s natural heritage,
and to insure the sustainable utilization of the natural resources within them.
The objective of the project is, building on the recent WB study on the protected area system in
Albania, to implement some of its key recommendations relating to country’s participation in the
Programme of Work on Protected Areas. These included a need for a comprehensive ecological
gap assessment for the protected area system, and a need for establishment of a policy
environment and knowledge on marine protected areas.
In order to strengthen the implementation of the National action plan on CBD Programme of
Work on Protected Areas (Annex 3), Memorandum of Understanding between WWF European
Policy Programme International Ass. Rome Branch and the Ministry of Environment, Forests
and Waters Administration was signed in 2007, on cooperation in developing common actions in
support of the CBD PoWPA implementation in Albania, in the context of the wider Dinaric Arc
Ecoregion. The general objectives of this collaboration are those identified in Protected Areas for
a Living Planet - Dinaric Arc Ecoregion Project (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Montenegro, and Albania), including supporting data and inventory needs, institutional capacity
building, creating an enabling policy framework, ensuring financial sustainability of protected
areas and national system of protected areas, assessing management effectiveness of existing
PAs, developing management plans that would preserve “favorable conservation status” of
habitats and species of European importance, developing an effective system for monitoring of
biodiversity, ensuring that governmental and non-governmental stakeholders contribute to the
implementation of the activities under this MoU, establishing and strengthening regional
networks and trans-boundary protected areas, and other forms of collaboration between
neighboring protected areas across national boundaries, within the Dinaric Arc Ecoregion.
Although there are protected areas and different projects are being run, Albania has not yet
drawn up a comprehensive inventory of biodiversity data that could be used for further protected
areas planning. Apart from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant that assisted the
development of the national strategy and action plan for biological and landscape diversity
conservation, as well as the preparation of the Coastal Zone Management Project, Albania
received very little international assistance to protect biodiversity and marine, coastal
ecosystems.
Despite the sea presence, there is no Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Albania, only national
parks considering mainly terrestrial ecosystems. The Albanian coastal region, with a total length
of about 429 km, in general is preserved more or less in its natural state. But on the other hand it
is a fact that the uncontrolled human activity has damaged extensively the ecological values of
the coastal area of Albania.
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Marine waters of Albania, in spite of being very scanty and poorly studied and surveyed so far,
are distinguished for their high level of biological diversity and very well developed littoral and
benthic communities (Anonymous, 2002).
Large, meadow-forming species of Posidonia oceanica is the dominant seagrass species on
Albanian coast in terms of cover/abundance. The Posidonia oceanica beds in the Adriatic coast
of Albania are rare and isolated. This seems to be linked to the effect of freshwater flows and
high values of suspended materials coming down from the rivers.
Well developed Posidonia meadows are found along the littoral of Cape Rodoni, near Porto
Romano and Vlora bay. Extensive Posidonia oceanica meadows cover the shallow waters of all
Ionian south of Vlora. Their state is considered as normal according to their density, leaves
production and rhizome growth rate (Kashta et al., 2005; 2007)
In some localities with subnormal low density values must have been object of human activity
impacts, creating regressions phenomenon until “matte” morte or dead “matte”.
An international project aimed at mapping (GIS) Posidonia meadows along the Albanian coast,
collect scientific information on the meadows and, through bottom-up-approach, promoting the
protection of Posidonia oceanica, is coming to the end.
The marine environment along the Adriatic Coast is affected by the considerable pollution of the
last 30 years, both by discharge into the sea of polluted river water and by direct discharge of
untreated urban and industrial wastewater (Anonymous, 2002).
The intensive agricultural activity, developed in this area, represent another source (nutrients and
pollutants) that impact seagrass beds.
Another factor of the last ten years that is having significant impacts on the marine and coastal
ecosystems is the creation of new resident areas and enlargement of the existing ones along the
coast, including the construction and housing along the beach and seashore. The presence of an
increasing number of people in the coastal area is accompanied by an increase of water pollution
(Anonymous, 2002).
The lagoons and their surrounding areas are of very present in the coastal area and of special
concern, particularly for the avifauna. In 3% of the territory that covers the coastal wetlands are
present more then 70% of the country biodiversity value. The most important wetlands for the
wintering birds along the Albania's coast are Karavasta, Narta and Kune-Vaini lagoons. These
wetlands serve as a haven for more than 6% of the wintering individuals of the European
population of the Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus. Dolphins' Delphinus delphis and
Tursiops truncatus visit the marine and coastal waters of Albania, while Stenella coeruleoalba is
an occasional visitor. Delphinus delphis is a vulnerable species, whereas Tursiops truncatus is a
rare species. The Mediterranean seal Monachus monachus, a species threatened with extinction
is also a very rare, occasional visitor to the Albanian coastal waters.
Establishment of MPAs and no-take zones will be beneficial for fisheries management as it will
seek to make fisheries sustainable in the long term. These activities will be based on the
involvement and participation of fishermen in this process who would become owners and
‘caretakers’ of no-take zones and MPAs. In addition, ecotourism development and local
economy would benefit in the short and long run (this will include cost benefit analysis and
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monitoring). For example, with this approach fish will be provided by locals from their
sustainable fisheries and sustainable mariculture farms (need for certification). In addition, local
restaurants and hotels can become part of this initiative establishing special seafood festivals,
educating tourists about the sea food species that are sustainably managed, and are not
endangered and threatened by fishing, pollution etc. (‘greening of fisheries industry’).
Establishment of MPA and no-take zones will increase scientific understanding, and enhance
non-extractive human activities related to tourism and recreation.
The present project (i) addresses the key gaps of the protected areas system in Albania in general
(by identifying and planning to cover the key biological gaps), and (ii) marine areas more
specifically (as this has been the weakest element of the protected area system so far). This
addresses the key priority actions for PoWPA identified by Albania.
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1. Gap assessment of the system of PAs in Albania
1.1. Background
Albania is distinguished for its rich biological and landscape diversity. This diversity is
attributable to the country's geographic position as well as geological, hydrological, climatic, soil
and relief characteristics. The mountainous terrain combined with steep cliffs creates ideal
conditions for maintaining and protecting a large number of ancient species, some of which are
endemic or sub-endemic. The high diversity of ecosystems and habitats (marine and coastal
ecosystems, wetlands, river deltas, sand dunes, lakes, rivers, Mediterranean shrubs, broadleaf,
conifers and mixed forests, alpine and sub-alpine pastures and meadows, and high mountain
ecosystems) offers rich habitats for a variety of plants and animals. There are around 3,200
species of vascular plants and 756 vertebrate species. There are 27 endemic and 160 sub-
endemic species of vascular plants. Approximately 30% of all European floras occur in Albania.
The high Albanian forests maintain communities of large mammals such as wolf, bear, lynx, and
wild goat, and also characteristic bird communities.
Coastal lagoons and large lakes inside the country are important areas especially for wintering
migratory birds. There are annually met around 70 waterfowl and water bird species with a total
population of 180,000 individuals in Albania during the winter. Albania is also an important
crossroad for the migration of birds, bats, and insects.
There are some 91 globally threatened species found in Albania. These include the Dalmatian
Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), and the Sturgeon
(Acipenser sturio) for which Albania is a country of particularly critical importance.
In spite of the fact that a low number of species has become extinct during the past century in
Albania, the rate of loss of country’s biodiversity during the last 50-60 years is believed to be
increasingly high. Moreover, insufficient knowledge and studies on a wide range of flora and
fauna limit an accurate historical evaluation of the biodiversity status of Albania. Four species of
mammals have become extinct; and meanwhile 17 bird species no longer nest in the country's
territory. During the last 25 years, approximately 122 species of vertebrates (27 mammals, 89
birds, and 6 fish) and four species of plants are expected to have lost more than 50% of their
population. The number of rare and endangered species of plants and animals is high and
expected to increase if appropriate conservation measures are not taken.
The international community concerned with increasing rate of biodiversity loss started to
address the challenge through various processes. One of the most important events was the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) held in 1992 in
Rio de Janeiro. The Earth Summit resulted in a set of documents, including Agenda 21 and Rio
Declaration that laid down principles of and rules for a global environmental management. The
UNCED process has also produced important additions to international law including the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries
Experiencing Serious Droughts and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, often referred to as
the Rio Conventions.
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The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was approved by the Albanian Government in
January 1994. The Focal Point for the convention is the Minister of Environment, Forests and
Water Administration. Since then and on Albania has undertaken a series of actions to meet with
its obligations to implement CBD.
The establishment of the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (ASCI) to
Europe supports the implementation of the Convention on the Conservation of European
Wildlife and Natural Habitats known as the Bern Convention 1979 (Council of Europe 1997).
Albania signed the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
(Bern, 1979) on 31 October 1995 and ratified it on 2 March 1998. In 2001 the Council of Europe
invited Albania to start the EMERALD Network project. The project started in April 2002,
according to the contract signed in 25 February 2002 between the Ministry of the Environment
of Albania and the Council of Europe. The project is already completed and it laid the basis for
the development of EMERALD Network at the national level.
Several protected areas identified as areas of special conservation interest-ASCI are included in
the Emerald Network in Albania. Some 19 sites along the coast have been identified since 1996
(under Coastal Area Management Program – CAMP (UNEP/MAP, 1996) and proposed to be
given the status of specially protected areas — SPAs. Up to date there are not established marine
protected areas. Various documents mention candidate sites such are Sazani, Karaburuni, Porto
Palermo, Ksamili and Ftelia, but further action steps are not yet undertaken.
Albania is a party to other International treaties, such as the Convention on Wetlands of
International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention); the Convention
on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention); the
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention); the
Convention on the Conservation of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO).
The “in situ” nature preservation in Albania started some 50 years ago. But it took a stronger
development after 1990. There are currently about 802 protected areas (including 750 Nature
Monuments) in Albania, covering around 9.08 % of the total land surface of the country. There
are no marine protected areas in Albania yet.
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Administration (MEFWA) is the main institution
responsible for the protection of environmental values in Albania. According to the legal
provisions, MEFWA identifies protected areas and approves management plans.
The administration and management of protected areas is based on Law No. 8906 dated 6 June
2002 “On Protected Areas”. The object of this law is the declaration, preservation,
administration, management and use of protected areas and their natural and biological
resources; the facilitation of conditions for the development of environmental tourism, for the
information and education of the general public and for direct or indirect economic profits, by
the local population, by the public and private sector.
This law regulates the protection of six categories of protected areas, applied in the territory of
the Republic of Albania. The categorization of areas, the status, and level of protection for each
area is based on the criteria of the World Centre of Nature Conservation (IUCN). The law pays
special attention to forests, waters and other natural resources within protected areas that shall be
excluded from classification as forests for utilization.
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The legal framework for nature conservation does not take into consideration existing capacities
and for this reason law enforcement is weak. The legal provisions are not sufficiently
implemented in relation to damage to biological diversity and violation of national legislation
(including the criminal code).
For the in-situ biodiversity conservation, responsibilities of individual organizations are not yet
clearly defined. In addition, activities are not well coordinated among sectorial institutions,
which manage and implement individual (particular) projects aimed at the in-situ conservation of
biological diversity. The potential of project steering committees is not always used efficiently. It
has happened that the achievements within a project life have been vanished after the project has
ended up. Often institutions have not been able to adopt the project outputs as their sustainable
assets.
Performance of individual institutions is limited by their capacities. Effectiveness of their
performance is assessed through checking the success or failure to complete tasks within the
approved annual work plan, and possibly through assessing the effectiveness of funds spent.
There is no feedback on the effectiveness of institutional performance on the biodiversity status
and development.
1.2. PA gap analysis and establishment of MPA project
1.2.1. What is gap analysis?
At its simplest, a gap analysis is an assessment of the extent to which a protected area system
meets protection goals set by a nation or region to represent its biological diversity.
Gap analyses can vary from simple exercises based on a spatial comparison of biodiversity with
existing protected areas to complex studies that need detailed data gathering and analysis,
mapping and use of software decision packages. All gap analyses should consider a range of
different “gaps” in a protected area network:
Representation gaps: either no representations of a particular species or ecosystem in any
protected area, or not enough examples of the species or ecosystem represented to ensure
long-term protection.
Ecological gaps: while the species or ecosystem occurs in the protected area system,
occurrence is either of inadequate ecological condition, or the protected area(s) fail to
address species'' movements or specific ecological conditions needed for long-term
survival or ecosystem functioning.
Management gaps: protected areas exist but management regimes (management
objectives, governance types, or management effectiveness) do not provide full security
for particular species or ecosystems given local conditions.
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1.2.2. Principles of Gap Analysis
Gap analyses should be driven by a series of scientific, social and political principles.
Representation: choose focal biodiversity across biological scales (species and ecosystems) and
realms (terrestrial, freshwater, and marine) for the gap analysis to capture the full array of
biodiversity in the protected area system.
Redundancy: include sufficient examples of species and ecosystems in a protected area
network to capture genetic variation and protect against unexpected losses.
Resilience: design protected area systems to withstand stresses and changes, including
future changes such as global warming.
Different types of gaps: analyze representation gaps (biodiversity not found in any
protected area), ecological gaps (biodiversity ecological needs not adequately addressed
in protected areas) and management gaps (inadequate management or purpose).
A participatory approach: collaborate with key stakeholders in decisions about
protected areas. The CBD demands participation, in particular by directly affected
communities, including indigenous and traditional peoples.
An iterative process: review and improve the gap analysis as knowledge grows and
environmental conditions change
1.2.3. Carrying out a gap analysis
However simple or complicated, cheap or expensive, all gap analyses should follow the same
basic steps outlined below
Steps in conducting a gap analysis
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Identify Key Targets
Most gap analyses focus on a representative sub-set of biodiversity as both indicators for the
analysis and targets for measuring conservation success.
These focal biodiversity elements (targets) define species, communities and ecosystem to be
evaluated (see Identify and map status and threats to biodiversity for more on indicators). They
can range from simple targets relating to the area protected to more sophisticated targets of
representation or endangerment, e.g.:
Area targets: most simply, agreeing an overall national area to be protected, such as the target of
10% of terrestrial area, developed by IUCN The World Conservation Union.
Coarse filter targets: protection of broad land or water types, such as ecosystems or their
components (e.g. communities).
Fine filter targets: usually species of particularly threatened or endemic species that would not
be captured by ecosystem targets. For example the European Union has used the concept of
favorable conservation status of species and habitats. Targets ideally touch on both the quantity
of land or water to be protected (to ensure sufficient populations or spatial extent of biodiversity)
and its distribution, to ensure capturing the ecological and genetic diversity of a species or
ecosystem. A simple target can be a decision to protect a stated proportion of remaining
ecosystems or to maintain species. More sophisticated targets identify in detail what needs to be
protected.
Status and Threats
Data, which are gathered to compare protected areas with species needing protection, ideally
should include current distribution and biodiversity status and trends. Mapping all species is
impossible so analysis relies on data for well-known species (e.g., birds); species representing
particular habitats; and ecosystems. Mapping can be “coarse filter” (ecosystems, habitats) or
“fine filter” (species and specialized habitats). Studies involve consolidating diverse data sets;
using GIS; standardizing habitat classification; and predictive models. Indicators should
represent as much of the total biodiversity as possible; provide adequate data; and be sympathetic
to other stakeholders.
Asses and Map
A map of protected areas is needed to compare with maps of biodiversity. Basic data on
protected areas are usually available at national level although spatial data and information on
protected areas in other governance systems (e.g. private protected areas) may be lacking.
Information about status of protected areas is generally less available, although studies and data
on these are starting to emerge. Ideally, three pieces of information are helpful:
Distribution
Protection status
Management effectiveness status
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1.2.4. Identify Gaps
Various options exist for using data to identify gaps in protected areas networks.
How to do the analysis: there are three general options, depending on data quality and
technical capacity:
o Without maps: a lot of information can be obtained just by listing all the
biodiversity elements not adequately represented in a protected area network is
itself very useful.
o With maps: more analysis is possible, including presence or absence from the
protected area network and issues such as proximity, proportion of the population
protected, and information about filling gaps.
o With maps plus software: systematic, algorithm based approaches to selecting
new protected areas have developed rapidly in the last few years.
What to look for: two key issues are important:
o What type of gap exists? – i.e. whether gaps are complete (representation gaps)
partial (ecological) or are gaps in objectives, governance types or effectiveness
(management gaps). In management gaps, a protected area itself appears as a
“gap” if it has not been implemented or well managed.
o What is the extent of the gap? – i.e. are whole new protected areas necessary, or
would a corridor between existing protected areas or an extension of an existing
park be sufficient to address the representation or ecological gap? These questions
are central to prioritizing what is needed most.
1.2.5. Prioritize Gaps
A gap analysis does not produce a precise plan, but rather a set of options that must be reconciled
with other wants and needs. A good gap analysis will outline the priorities to be addressed and
suggestions for action. Identification of priorities involves a number of different assessment
steps:
Pressures and threats: to existing protected areas and unprotected ecosystems – to
identify urgent action and threats to the protected area network. Many threat assessment
methodologies exist.
Opportunities for new protected areas: some places may already be proposed protected
areas or have a designation that could be converted into full protection status. Some
community areas may be suitable as protected areas if supported by local stakeholders
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Other opportunities for effective protection: some gaps may be better filled by other
sympathetic management than by creating protected areas in places where they are
resisted or difficult to achieve.
Capacity to implement an expanded protected area network: big plans are pointless
without the capacity to make them happen. The CBD calls for national capacity
assessment for managing protected area systems, including finance, resources, legal and
policy framework, partners and skills
1.2.6. Agree Strategy
Once priorities are set, the gap analysis is complete. But it is only worth doing if it leads to
developing one or more scenarios for expansion of the protected area network taking into
account:
Size and location of new protected areas: possibly with linking habitats (corridors and
buffer zones). Decisions will be made on the basis of priorities, opportunities and
capacity.
Management objectives for protected areas: varying from strict protection to cultural
landscapes with human communities. All have their role, but are not equally applicable to
all conservation needs. IUCN identifies six categories of management objectives that can
help to plan protected area networks.
Governance structures for the protected areas: who owns or manages the protected
areas – can influence if communities support or oppose protection. Most governments
still rely mainly on state-owned protected areas, but many other options exist, including
various forms of co-management, private protected areas and community conserved
areas.
Opportunities for conservation outside protected areas: biodiversity may be
conserved outside protected areas, if management is effective and secure.
Opportunities to use restoration as a tool: sometimes this will just mean encouraging
natural regeneration. In other cases active intervention is needed.
A gap analysis cannot be carried out according to a rigid formula, but needs to be developed and
modified depending on need, data availability, expertise and the type of species or ecosystems
being considered.
1.3. PA gap assessment
1.3.1. Background
Environment protection and sustainable use of nature resources is one of the priorities of
Albanian Government. Halting environment degradation, prevent losing important nature values,
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reducing air and water pollution, control of soil erosion, stopping illegal forest harvesting are
some of the main concerns the government has to deal with. Strengthening and enlargement of
protected areas system is also an important priority and an appropriate tool to guarantee not only
the preservation of natural values and biodiversity but even the sustainable use and economical
development of these areas and communities living within or around them.
The protected areas include some of the most important natural values of the country from both
the ecologic and economic point of view. Restructuring and enlargement of the protected areas
system, development of zoning concepts and management plans and building and strengthening
management capacities are part of the policy and strategy of the Ministry of Environment,
Forests and Water Administration to improve protected areas management and achieve European
Union standards and Government commitments on nature protection.
Protected areas are one of the greatest legacies that humanity can leave for future generations to
ensure that our descendants have access to nature and to the material and non-material benefits
they provide.
The protected areas exist in a rapidly changing environment. There are many issues, which
represent both opportunities and threats to protected areas, stemming from climate change,
invasive species, and fragmentation of the natural landscape, increasing urbanization and
growing demands upon natural resources.
The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, understanding and appreciating the
importance of Protected Areas for the preservation of biodiversity, have recommended
expanding Protected Areas and strengthening their management as high priority objectives for
the country. Establishment of the Ecological Network is a long process which will be
accompanied by a programme to help understand the Ecological Network, its planning and
Protected areas are important because they:
help maintain the diversity of ecosystems, species, genetic varieties and ecological
processes, which are vital for support of life on Earth;
provide vital services and goods from nature that support peoples’ livelihoods,
including water, clean air, climate and biological control, and aesthetic and spiritual
values;
have important intrinsic values as representative of the world's wilderness, as
repositories of outstanding areas of living richness, for conserving scenic and cultural
values of significance;
are often the home of people with traditional cultures and irreplaceable knowledge
of nature;
may be models of sustainable use of resources which can be applied elsewhere;
and
have immense scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and spiritual value.
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establishment, and to promote public participation and local community involvement in this
process.
1.3.2. International developments
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), that was signed by Albania on January 5th,
1994, considers the establishment and management of Protected Areas as one of the main
mechanisms for biodiversity protection and ecological management. The Global Biodiversity
Strategy and the Pan- European Strategy on Biological and Landscape Diversity (PESBLD),
initiatives where Albania is actively participating, understanding and appreciating the importance
of Protected Areas for the preservation of biodiversity, have recommended expanding Protected
Areas and strengthening their management as high priority objectives for every country.
A European initiative to establish and develop an ecological network known as EECONET aims
to protect the structure and complex ecological relationships of Europe. EECONET at the same
time is an instrument to develop the priorities for action for each country.
The establishment of the ecological network requires four main elements: (i) core area or bio-
center to preserve ecosystems, habitats, species, and landscapes; (ii) ecological corridors or bio-
corridors to improve the coherence of the biological systems; (iii) rehabilitation areas where
damaged elements of the ecosystems, habitats, and landscapes have the need for repair or full
recovery; and (iv) buffer zones which support and protect the ecological network from external
impacts. Core areas/bio-centers must include areas and main characteristics, which represent
biological diversity and landscapes. Bio-corridors are necessary to secure the coherence and
functioning of the ecological network because they facilitate spreading and migration of species
between bio-centers.
Protected Areas and Sustainability
Protected areas contribute to sustainable development by:
1. Conserving soil and water in erodible areas;
2. Regulating and purifying water flow, especially by protecting wetlands and
forests;
3. Shielding people from natural disasters, such as floods or storm surges;
4. Maintaining important natural vegetation on soils of inherently low
productivity;
5. Maintaining wild genetic resources important to medicine or for plant or
animal breeding;
6. Protecting species that are highly sensitive to human disturbance;
7. Providing critical habitat for feeding, breeding or resting of species that are
harvested;
8. Providing income and employment through tourism.
Source: Action Plan for the Protected Areas in Europe (IUCN, 1993)
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The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD (COP 7), confirming that
efforts to establish and maintain systems of protected areas and areas where special measures
need to be taken to conserve biological diversity in line with Article 8 on in situ conservation and
other relevant articles of the Convention, are essential for achieving, in implementing the
ecosystem approach, the three objectives of the Convention and thus contributing to achieving
the 2010 target contained in the Strategic Plan of the Convention and in the Plan of
Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and to achieve sustainable
development and the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, approved a specific
Program of Work on Protected Areas.
The overall purpose of the programme of work on protected areas is to support the establishment
and maintenance by 2010 for terrestrial and by 2012 for marine areas of comprehensive,
effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional systems of protected
areas that collectively, inter-alias through a global network/ contribute to achieving the three
objectives of the Convention and the 2010 target to significantly reduce the current rate of
biodiversity loss at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels and contribute to
poverty reduction and the pursuit of sustainable development, thereby supporting the objectives
of the Strategic Plan of the Convention, the World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of
Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals.
The Convention’s work on protected areas takes into account the ecosystem approach. The
ecosystem approach is the primary framework for action under the Convention, and its
application will help reach a balance between the three objectives of the Convention. Multiple-
use protected areas applied in an ecosystem approach context can, for example, help meet
specific goals relating to conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of
benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The ecosystem approach provides a
framework within which the relationship of protected areas to the wider landscape and seascape
can be understood, and the goods and services flowing from protected areas can be valued. In
addition, the establishment and management of protected area systems in the context of the
ecosystem approach should not simply be considered in national terms, but where the relevant
ecosystem extends beyond national boundaries, in ecosystem or bioregional terms as well. This
presents a strong argument for and adds complexity to the establishment of trans-boundary
protected areas and protected areas in marine areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
The programme of work consists of four interlinked elements intended to be mutually
reinforcing and cross-cutting in their implementation. The first and most important element of
the program of work requires parties to take direct actions for planning, selecting, establishing,
strengthening, and managing, protected area systems and sites
The first goal under this programme element is “To establish and strengthen national and
regional systems of protected areas integrated into a global network as a contribution to globally
agreed goals” aiming to established by 2010, terrestrially and 2012 in the marine area, a global
network of comprehensive, representative and effectively managed national and regional
protected area system is as a contribution to (i) the goal of the Strategic Plan of the Convention
and the World Summit on Sustainable Development of achieving a significant reduction in the
rate of biodiversity loss by 2010; (ii) the Millennium Development Goals – particularly goal 7 on
ensuring environmental sustainability; and (iii) the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
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As a matter of urgency, the parties should by 2006, take action to establish or expand protected
areas in any large, intact or relatively not fragmented or highly irreplaceable natural areas, or
areas under high threat, as well as areas securing the most threatened species in the context of
national priorities, and taking into consideration the conservation needs of migratory species.
1.3.3. State of the game
In fulfilling its commitments and obligations to the CBD Albania has prepared “The National
Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan” (BSAP), developed in 1999, during the Biodiversity
Enabling Activity phase I. The BSAP proposed the establishment of A Representative Network
of Protected areas (RNPA) which represents the first step for the creation of the country’s
Ecological Network. Approximately 14% of the country’s territory is included in the proposal,
and it consists of the most important and representative ecosystems, habitats, and landscapes of
Albania.
The Government of Albania in cooperation with all other relevant stakeholder has taken several
actions to establish or expand protected areas in any large, intact or relatively unfragmented or
highly irreplaceable natural areas, or areas under high threat, as well as areas securing the most
threatened species in the context of national priorities, and taking into consideration the
conservation needs of migratory species. Efforts are made to complete protected area system gap
analyses at national and regional levels based on the requirements for representative systems of
protected areas that adequately conserve terrestrial, marine and inland water biodiversity and
ecosystems. These efforts encourage the establishment of protected areas that benefit local
communities, including by respecting, preserving, and maintaining their traditional knowledge.
Specific efforts are made to integrate protected areas into broader land- and seascapes and
sectorial plans and strategies such as poverty reduction strategies. There are some attempts to
develop tools of ecological connectivity, such as ecological corridors, linking together protected
areas where necessary or beneficial as determined by national priorities for the conservation of
biodiversity. Continuous measures are taken to rehabilitate and restore habitats and degraded
ecosystems, as appropriate, as a contribution to building ecological networks, ecological
corridors and/or buffer zones.
Albania has gained a good experience in promoting collaboration between protected areas across
national boundaries. It has established new TBPAs (Shkodra Lake) with adjacent countries and
strengthened effective collaborative management of existing TBPAs (Prespa Lake and Ohrid
Lake).
Recently, Albania has started to develop new management plans for protected areas, to better
achieve the three objectives of the Convention. Attempts are made to ensure that protected areas
are effectively managed or supervised through staffs that are well-trained and skilled, properly
and appropriately equipped, and supported, to carry out their fundamental role in the
management and conservation of protected areas.
Legal provisions are made to apply timely environmental impact assessments to any plan or
project with the potential to have effects on protected areas, and ensure timely information flow
among all concerned parties to that end,
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Several studies are conducted to assess key threats to protected areas and develop and implement
strategies to prevent and/or mitigate such threats and establish and implement measures for the
rehabilitation and restoration of the ecological integrity of protected areas.
Government of Albania has made several efforts to develop policies, improve governance, and
ensure enforcement of urgent measures that can halt the illegal exploitation of resources from
protected areas, taking into account sustainable customary resource use of local communities.
There have been some efforts to establish policies and institutional mechanisms with full
participation of local communities, to facilitate the legal recognition and effective management
of local community conserved areas (communal forestry) in a manner consistent with the goals
of conserving biodiversity and the knowledge, innovations and practices of local communities.
Continuous efforts are made to engage local communities and relevant stakeholders in
participatory planning and governance, recalling the principles of the ecosystem approach.
The government in cooperation with the local NGO community has continuously promoted an
enabling environment (legislation, policies, capacities, and resources) for the involvement of
local communities and relevant stakeholders in decision making, and the development of their
capacities and opportunities to establish and manage protected areas, including community-
conserved protected areas.
The NGO community has implemented specific plans and initiatives to effectively involve local
communities, with respect for their rights consistent with national legislation and applicable
international obligations, and stakeholders at all levels of protected areas planning,
establishment, governance and management, with particular emphasis on identifying and
removing barriers preventing adequate participation.
In recent years a lot of work has been done to identify legislative and institutional gaps and
barriers that impede the effective establishment and management of protected areas, and
harmonize sectorial policies and laws to ensure that they support the conservation and effective
management of the protected area system.
There have been some efforts to identify and foster economic opportunities and markets at local,
national and international levels for goods and services produced by protected areas and/or
reliant on the ecosystem services that protected areas provide, consistent with protected area
objectives and promote the equitable sharing of the benefits.
In the framework of the National Capacity Self-Assessment Programme (NCSA), Albania is
completing national protected-area capacity needs assessments, and establishing
capacity-building programmes on the basis of these assessments including the creation of
curricula, resources and programs for the sustained delivery of protected areas management
training. Efforts are made to establish effective mechanisms to document existing knowledge and
experiences on protected area management, including traditional knowledge and identify
knowledge and skills gaps as well as exchange lessons learnt, information and capacity-building
experiences with other countries and relevant organizations, through the Clearing-house
Mechanisms and other means.
The NCSA is also assessing needs for relevant technologies for protected area management
involving local communities and stakeholders such as the, research institutions, non-
governmental organizations and the private sector, and encouraging development and use of
appropriate technology, including technologies of local communities, for habitat rehabilitation
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and restoration, resource mapping, biological inventory, and rapid assessment of biodiversity,
monitoring, in-situ and ex-situ conservation, sustainable use, etc.
As part of its obligations, Albania provides regular information on protected areas financing to
relevant institutions and mechanisms, including through national reports under the Convention
on Biological Diversity, and to the World Database on Protected Areas. Since 1993, Albania is
benefiting from international funding programmes to support implementation of national systems
of protected areas in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
After 1990s, there have been many efforts to establish and strengthen strategies and programmes
of education and public awareness on the importance of protected areas in terms of their role in
biodiversity conservation and sustainable socio-economic development, and targeted towards all
stakeholders.
Efforts are made to develop mechanisms for constructive dialogue and exchange of information
and experiences among protected-area managers, and between protected area managers and local
communities and their organizations and other environment educators and actors. Recently there
is a high pressure to incorporate the subject of protected areas as an integral component of the
school curricula as well as in informal education.
Since some years, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Administration in close
collaboration with specialized institutions is implementing a national programme to monitor and
assess the status and trends of biodiversity within protected area systems and sites.
Albania participates in the World Database on Protected Areas maintained by UNEP-WCMC,
and the United Nations List of Protected Areas and the State of the World’s Protected Areas
assessment process.
The Government of Albania is promoting interdisciplinary research, to improve understanding of
the ecological social and economic aspects of protected areas, including methods and techniques
for valuation of goods and services from protected areas, and encouraging studies to improve the
knowledge of the distribution, status and trends of biological diversity.
Efforts are made to promote the dissemination of, and facilitate access to, scientific information
from and on protected areas including through the clearing-house mechanism, and develop and
strengthen working partnerships with appropriate organizations and institutions which undertake
research studies leading to an improved understanding of biodiversity in protected areas.
1.3.4. Recent developments
The nature protection inside the PA’s system is being evaluated as an important instrument to
preserve the biodiversity values in the country. The strengthening and enlargement of the
protected areas system, as the basis of the Ecologic Network of the country, is considered as one
of the most important objectives of the Program of Work and Action plans of the Ministry of
Environment, Forest and Water Administration,. In this framework it is aimed, as a short term
objectives that the protected areas will cover 15 % of the territory (doubling their actual size) and
a long term objectives (year 2015) about 20 % of the overall country’s surface. The bases for the
enlargement of the protected area system are the proposals made in the BSAP refined and
improved by considering recent developments and natural processes.
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So, on November 2005, the Council of Ministers approved three Decisions related to the
enlargement of the protected areas system: the enlargement of “Butrinti’s National park, the
designation of Nature Managed Reserve “Shkodra Lake” and the designation of the Protected
Landscape “Buna River -Velipojë”, National park “Mali i Dajtit”, Protected Landscape “Mali me
Gropa-Bize-Martanesh”, National Park “Divjake-Karavasta” and National Park “Shebenik-
Jabllanice”, increasing significantly the size of protected areas in Albania.
Considering their international significance, the Albanian Government, decided to propose to the
Ramsar Convention to include the areas of “Shkodra Lake” and “Buna River” in the list of
Ramsar sites, as internationally important areas, especially for the water birds. On the February
2nd, 2006 the Ramsar Convention’s Secretariat delivered to the Ministry of Environment,
Forests and Water Administration the respective certificate. The process has started already and
is going on in some other areas.
The protected areas do not only preserve and protect biodiversity but they are also a source of
living resources and incomes to local communities. The proposed strategy for strengthening and
enlargement of protected areas system does not mean that the man and his interests are excluded
from the 15% of the country’s territory designated to be covered as Protected Areas. Rather than
dictating the exclusion of economic, social, and recreation activities, Protected Areas are zones
where this activity is sustainable and controlled, and developed in accordance with the needs for
the protection of the ecological integrity of the ecosystems, habitats, landscapes, and survival of
the plant and animal species.
As mentioned above, the MEFAW has already started the process of strengthening and
enlargement of the PA’s system and the establishment of the PA’s Representative Network
according to the proposals of the BSAP, international commitments and obligations and the
requirements of the law on protected areas, relying on new concepts for their administration and
management. The new concepts of management for the protected areas are based on the
integration of nature protection measures with sustainable use of natural resources from local
communities and all concerned stakeholders following the principle “Living in a protected area
is not a limitation but an opportunity”. These new concepts consider local communities and
stakeholders as an important part of their integrated management process. According to these
new concepts, the designation of new protected areas does not include only remote forest and
pasture areas, that are difficult to access and where there is no human impact, but even
settlements and development areas with a good tradition in the sustainable use of natural
resources and important development activities that have contributed to shape special features of
the natural landscape.
Recognizing the biodiversity ecological values and putting them under a protection status
generates a new development for all the residents that live and develop their social-economic
activities in these areas. Nowadays, differently from the past, when the “Protected Area” was
considered as an “off limit” untouched area where everything was prohibited, by applying the
zoning concept local stakeholders became important actors in the integrated protection and
sustainable management of natural resources. The process of enlarging the protected areas
system will be focused on re-viewing and improving designations for these main management
categories: “National Park”, “Managed Natural Reserve” and “Protected landscape”. The process
will consist in the enlargement of the existing areas for these categories and the integration of
other protected areas into them by changing their protection status.
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Preparation of the management plans for the Protected Areas of Albania is considered as a high
priority; so far, only 4-5 Protected Areas have new management plans or plans under
preparation. This should be a high priority activity not only for the responsible authorities such
as the MEFWA and the administration of protected areas, but also for the scientific and research
institutions and specialized NGOs in the country which have the necessary expertise for the
preparation of the management plans.
Taking into account that Albania’s Protected Areas are part of the European natural heritage, it is
the responsibility and obligation of the international organizations to provide support for the
preparation and implementation of the existing and proposed management plans. The MEFWA
must help to create the conditions to attract more of these organizations to work in Albania.
Establishment of the Ecological Network is a long process which will be accompanied by a
programme to help understand the Ecological Network, its planning and establishment, and to
promote public participation and local community involvement in this process. The second step
required for the establishment of the Ecological Network after RNPA approval will be the
establishment of the bio-corridors for linking the various Protected Areas with each other. A
long-term objective of this process is that Protected Areas cover 20% of the country’s territory
by 2020.
The establishment of the Ecological Network requires a functioning administration and
management authority for protected areas. In line with the efforts to strengthen and enlarge the
protected areas system measures must be taken to build and strengthen capacities of respective
management structures to fulfill their duties and responsibilities.
1.3.5. Assessing the protected area system
On assessing the protected area system level design it is generally agreed that layout and
configuration of the PA system optimizes the conservation of biodiversity. The PA system
adequately protects against the extinction or extirpation of any species and it adequately
represents the full diversity of ecosystems within the region. The PA system consists primarily of
exemplary and intact ecosystems and it maintains natural processes at a landscape level.
However, the system design need to be improved in order to address issues related to the
protection of transition areas between ecosystems, sites of high biodiversity and high endemism
and the full range of succession diversity.
Protected Areas policies clearly articulate a vision, goals, and objectives for the PA system and
there is a demonstrated commitment to protecting a viable and representative PA network. PA
managers agreed that there is ongoing research on critical PA-related issues and the PA system is
periodically reviewed for gaps and weaknesses. However, they consider that there are no
restoration targets for underrepresented and/or greatly diminished ecosystems. According to their
judgment there is no comprehensive inventory of the biological diversity throughout the region
and there is no assessment of the historical range of variability of ecosystem types in the region.
Improvements should be made regarding issues like the adequate area of land protected to
maintain natural processes at a landscape level, development and implementation of an effective
training and capacity building programs for PA staff, and evaluation of PA management,
including management effectiveness.
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Regarding policy environment there is a general agreement that PA-related laws complement PA
objectives and promote management effectiveness and national policies promote sustainable land
management. National policies foster dialogue and participation with civic and environmental
NGOs as well as a widespread environmental education at all levels. At the other hand, there is
insufficient commitment and funding to effectively administer the PA system. Environmental
protection goals are not fully incorporated into all aspects of policy development and there is a
low level of communication between natural resource departments. Improvements should be
made towards effective enforcement of PA-related laws and ordinances at all levels and adequate
environmental training for governmental employees at all levels.
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1.4. Assessment of protected area management
1.4.1. Background
Historically, the mandate for protected area management was within the Directorate General of
Forestry and Pastures (DGFP). The new changes on the Government structures, after the general
political elections of July 3rd, 2005, reallocated several responsibilities of the former DGFP to the
new Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Administration (MEFWA).
According to the Law No. 8906 dated 6 June 2002 “On Protected Areas”, the management of
forests and forest property, of waters and water property, as well as other properties in state
ownership located inside a protected area shall be performed by the administration of the
protected area.
Decree “On the administration of protected areas”, defines that the State Authority for the
administration of protected areas was DGFP (now with the new government structure it is the
MEFWA (Directorate for Nature Protection Policies), which should establish separate
administration for protected areas. The decree also defines the main duties and responsibilities of
the administration. Following this decree the Directorate General of Forests and Pastures issued
respective orders for the establishment of the separate administrations for 11 National Parks and
11 Managed Nature Reserves.
An important new part of the PAs Management structures is the Management Board, which is
currently under development. It provides the setup for a participatory management approach
including all relevant technical structures as well as governmental structures at regional and local
level. Also other stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations and business associations
are considered member of the board.
The existing administration of protected areas lacks in both number and capacities of personnel.
All the staff working in protected areas management is with a background of forestry. Lack of
competitive and advantageous salary conditions influences the quality of staff at the expert level.
Staffing of posts in the public service is compromised and professional requirements have been
reduced. The lack of experts in such field as economic and social aspects of biodiversity and
related impacts, and incentives is a specific problem.
1.4.2. Assessment of management effectiveness of protected areas
The majority of protected areas is suffering from pressures and is under continuous threats in the
future. The main pressures and threat include forest harvesting, illegal building or occupying of
area, grazing, hunting, NTFP collection, tourism and recreation activities, waste disposal, semi
natural processes (including mainly insects and diseases but also fires), costal erosion, waste
water treatment, fires and mining.
The most problematic are Valbona NP, Lura NP, Velipoja PL, and Martanesh PL. The situation
looks better in some areas like Tomori NP, Oroshi MR and Thethi NP but in general this
situation is because these areas, mostly forest areas, are located in very remote areas difficult to
access. Also the graph shows that the main threats are hunting and grazing followed by tourism
activities and fires. Coastal erosion appears to be a severe threat for protected areas along the
coast.
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There was a general consensus in the discussions that some of the actual pressures (illegal
harvesting, hunting, grazing, fires, etc) can be reduced in the future (threats) as result of a better
performance of the protected area administration in controlling activities within protected areas
and improving communication with local communities. But some other pressures (tourism and
recreational activities, illegal building) will continue to threat the protected areas in the future
since they could not be properly controlled.
Analyzing results of the different groups of protected areas we see some little difference in the
severity and importance of pressures and threats.
Group 1, consisting of relatively large areas covering different type of ecosystems, has huge
problems with hunting and grazing.
Group 2, consisting of relatively small forest protected areas, has problems not only with hunting
and grazing but also with tourism activities and fires that are damaging their natural resources.
For this group, the collection of NTFP is an important pressure and threat.
Group 3, consisting mainly of wetland ecosystems, apart having severe problems with coastal
erosion, are suffering also from hunting, tourism activities (which in this case are not directly
related to the protected area but to the beaches) and waste disposal.
The assessment about planning of protected areas shows that in general there is a secure legal
protection for protected areas and the PA objectives, siting, layout and design of protected areas
optimizes the conservation of biodiversity. Analyzing the results of answers given regarding
planning in protected areas it is evident that there are severe problems with boundary
demarcation and staffing of protected areas. Other problematic issues include support from local
communities, disputes regarding land tenure and user rights, conflicts with local communities,
zoning of protected areas and links with other protected areas.
The situation of inputs to protected area management seems really critical especially to
infrastructure and finance inputs. Although the level of personnel is not adequate, their skills and
performance is good and there are attempts to improve their capacities. There is a general lack of
any kind of infrastructure including transportation and personnel facilities and equipments. Also,
financing to protected areas seem to be an enormous problem since there are no secure funding
for the future and proper financial practices are not in place. Last but not least, protected area
personnel lack communication and information infrastructure, especially the means and tools
necessary for data collection and processing.
There is a huge gap in management planning. Only 3 PA have a management plan and other 2
are working on it. The others have no management document. Also an analysis of, and strategy
for addressing, PA threats and pressures is missing. There is no full inventory of natural and
cultural resources in all protected areas. Protected areas administration units do not have a well
detailed yearly working plan for reaching management objectives.
Research, monitoring and evaluation is not a priority for the PA managers and it is not in line
with the protected area management objectives. Although PA managers dedicate a lot of time
and efforts for accurately monitoring and recording the impact of legal and illegal uses of the
PA, they feel that critical needs for scientific research and monitoring are not clearly identified
and prioritized according to the PA management objectives. Access to scientific research and
advice is mostly depending on personal connections. Generally the results of monitoring and
scientific research are neither used nor included in the management planning.
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The main task of PA managers is law enforcement and they spent a lot of time and resources in
this regard. They also put some efforts on site restoration and provide information on the
importance and values of PA natural and cultural resources. It is evident that in general PA
managers do not deal with infrastructure development and research and monitoring. Also they
have problems with resource inventory and planning as well as visitor management.
Although the main activity of PA managers is law enforcement, illegal activities within the PA
are difficult to monitor since PA managers lack transportation infrastructure, especially in large
PA. Generally PA managers are under pressure to unduly exploit PA resources which market
value is high (tourism development, mining, grazing). Traditional uses of PA natural resources
are not considered as considered as a factor of vulnerability to PA.
According to PA areas managers, protected areas and their natural and cultural resources
vulnerability is influenced mostly by the following factors
The areas are easily accessible for illegal activities.
There is a strong demand for vulnerable PA resources (illegal harvesting of valuable
trees, poaching, grazing)
Recruitment and retention of employees is difficult considering difficult working
conditions and not appropriate remuneration and some time employment is related to
political changes
1.5. Addressing gaps in protected areas
1.5.1. Key issues
The assessment of protected areas in Albania has identified some key issues that are briefly
summarized as follows.
Considerable progress has been made in the establishment of protected areas but
significant gaps remain
While the number of protected areas has tripled over the past 20 years there remain serious gaps
in coverage of many important species and ecosystems. Marine biodiversity is of particular
concern as marine protected areas cover only 0.5 % of the world’s global marine surface (UNEP-
WCMC and IUCN, 2003). Addressing these gaps requires the expansion of existing, and the
strategic creation of new, protected areas while ensuring the connectivity of suitable habitat
between them.
Protected Areas face many challenges and the management effectiveness of
protected areas must be strengthened
Protected areas face many challenges in the 21st century; particularly those associated with
global change factors. These include: increased population growth often associated with
increased demands for the use of natural resources; climate change; decentralization and
democratization processes; and new forms of protected areas governance.
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Managers of protected areas and other primary stakeholders often do not have sufficient
knowledge, skills, capabilities and tools to effectively respond to the challenges posed by global
change. Enhanced capacity building is essential to address this and is needed at a range of levels,
including for protected areas agencies, park managers and key stakeholders. The skills and
competencies now required are more specialized and broader than in the past requiring a range of
innovative approaches.
The management of many protected areas is not effective, suffering particularly from inadequate
financial resources and limited management capacity. Although a number of models have been
developed for assessing management effectiveness, these need to be more widely applied and
linked to field action.
Protected Areas play a vital role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable
development
Protected areas are vital for both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. The
importance of protected areas in contributing to Millennium Development goals, particularly
those relating to environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation, is really high. There is a
need for increased recognition of the crucial role of protected areas in achieving sustainable
development objectives, particularly as many key stakeholders still see protected areas as a
barrier to their activities and aspirations.
Local Communities have to be better involved in protected areas
local communities have to be more effectively involved in protected areas and that, specifically,
their rights have to be more appropriately respected. The involvement of local communities in
protected area management has increased during the past decade but there is still a long way to
go. This is particularly important as local communities live in most high biodiversity regions in
the country. It is acknowledged their vital role in the achievement of sustainable development
and is also recognized local communities knowledge as an important element in managing
natural landscapes and resources, specific sites, species, cultural and traditional values.
There is a need to apply new and innovative approaches for protected areas, linked
to broader agendas
There is a need to consider and apply a range of models of protected areas, including those
established by Local Communities (Community Conserved Areas), as well as those established
and managed by the private sector. Protected areas are also increasingly being considered in the
context of the wider landscape, ecological networks and trans-boundary protected areas. Such
approaches are important as many protected areas have traditionally been cut off from the
economic and social activities of the surrounding land and sea. Movement of species, nutrients
and other environmental flows are not limited by protected area boundaries and socio-economic
activities occur at the broader ecosystem level. Accordingly, there will be an increasing need to
apply these models in the future. These initiatives also provide practical and important insights
on how to apply the ecosystem management approach endorsed by the Convention on Biological
Diversity.
Protected Areas require increased financial investment
The financial resources available for protected areas are inadequate. Under-investment by
government and others in protected areas means that these areas are often failing to meet their
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conservation and social objectives. Inadequate human and financial resources result in many
protected areas lacking effective protection and management. The challenge is to achieve a major
boost in investment in protected areas and to develop more sustainable methods of protected area
financing.
1.5.2. Actions addressing gaps in protected area system
The proposed actions for addressing gaps in protected areas system are based mainly on the
proposals of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and on many years of experience
in the field of nature conservation in Albania and on a continuous participatory process of
discussion and consultation with various experts. These actions aim to ensure adequate legal
protection and appropriate management for the most valuable and representative natural and
semi-natural ecosystems, habitats and landscapes in the country. These actions are important for
building the Albania Ecological Network and fulfilling the commitments and obligations of the
Albanian Government toward the Convention of Biological Diversity.
Actions for strengthening and enlargement of the protected areas system include the following:
Review and reclassify a number of the existing protected areas based on the size of each
protected area and its role and importance in a broader national and regional context.
Changes in the management category and protection status should be applied to several
existing protected areas.
Reclassify existing Strict Nature Reserves (Category I). Actually they include some areas
of important and untouched natural habitats. In order to provide for a better preservation
of their natural values they should be included as core zones in areas designated to other
management categories (National Parks or Protected Landscapes). So, the size of
protected areas under this category (Category I) will decrease significantly till 2010. The
establishment of the ecological network will require the designation of some additional
areas as Strict Nature Reserves (For example, some Nature Monuments (Category III) are
proposed to become Strict Nature Reserve (Category I).
Significantly enlarge the size of National Parks (terrestrial and marine). Under this action,
adjacent existing protected areas would be combined to include new areas recently
identified as appropriate for protection under this category. Although the number of
National Parks would decrease from 11 to 7, the total area designated under this category
would increase significantly, going from 56’440 ha to 311’694 ha.
Establish, for the first time in Albania, protected areas in our seas (Marine National Parks,
Marine Nature Reserves, and Seascape Protected areas) as well as along rivers (Drini
valley or Vjosa Valley).
Extend the boundaries of existing Areas of Habitats and Species Management (Managed
Nature Reserves) in order to improve their management and include other important
habitats and ecosystems and improve species management and preservation. The size of
areas designated under this category will slightly increase till 2010, from 41’128 ha to
52’935 ha.
Expand the Landscape/Seascape Protected Areas (Category V). The number of protected
areas under this category would increase from 3 to 17, with a total area under this category
increasing from 49’611 ha to 119’088 ha.
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Greatly enrich the current system of protected areas in terms of ecosystems and habitats.
The protected area system in Albania should include all types of habitats and ecosystems
that represent our country’s nature and biodiversity.
Develop management plans for protected areas and strengthen capacities for their
administration. In order to be successful and provide a better preservation and
management of natural values and biodiversity, the process of strengthening and
enlargement of protected areas system must be accompanied by the development of
management plans for all the protected areas and strengthening the management capacities
of the protected areas managers.
Table 1: Plans for improving the Protected Areas system in Albania
June 2005 2010 2015
No
Protected Areas
Management
Categories Area
Ha
Area
%
Area
Ha
Area
%
Area
Ha
Area
%
1
Strict Natural
Reserve 14500 0.51% 1800 0.06% 6900 0.24%
2 National Park 56440 1.96% 311694 10.84% 311694 10.84%
3 Natural Monument 3490 0.12% 200 0.01% 200 0.01%
4
Areas of Habitats and
Species Management 41128 1.43% 52935 1.84% 64235 2.23%
5
Landscape/Seascape
Protected Areas 49611 1.73% 119088 4.14% 187588 6.53%
6
Protected area with
managed resources 18200 0.63% 18200 0.63% 18200 0.63%
TOTAL 183369 6.38% 503917 17.53% 588817 20.48%
1.5.3. Recommendations for improving the situation
In order to improve the PA management it is necessary to further improve legal framework and
national policies on nature conservation. There is a need to identify and allocate resources for the
preparation of management plans for protected areas as well as strengthening the PA
administration and building capacities. In order to face increasing challenges and shortcomings
in financial resources the re is need to explore and establish economically sustainable models for
protected areas management. Continuous efforts should be made to address issues like
participatory management, involvement of local communities, environmental information and
education and public awareness programs on the importance of PA.
The recommendations given above, as well as all the result of the RAPPAM assessment will be
further elaborated in cooperation with the MEFWA in order to prioritize recommendations,
develop an action plan, and identify agencies or departments who will be responsible for
implementing the changes, and ensuring that the financial, technical, administrative, and political
support is sufficient to make these changes. MEFWA has already expressed their commitment to
take actions for improving the effectiveness of protected area management.
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2. The situation on marine biodiversity conservation and
MPAs in Albania
2.1. Background on marine conservation in Albania
Albania is distinguished for its rich biological and landscape diversity. The high diversity of
ecosystems and habitats offers rich habitats for a variety of plants and animals. Of the estimated
3,200 species of vascular plants, 27 are endemic and 160 sub-endemic species.
Coastal lagoons and large lakes inside the country are important areas especially for resident and
wintering migratory birds. There are about 70 waterfowl and water bird species among which
some are threatened such as the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and the Pygmy
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus).
There are few studies and surveys concerning the marine environment of Albania, but they show
already the importance of seagrasses meadows in particular Posidonia oceanica, coralligenous
formations and the presence of numerous benthic and pelagic species such as fish, invertebrates
or marine mammals and occasionally the Mediterranean Monk Seal.
At the international level, Albania is signatory of numerous conventions and agreements, such as
the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on the Conservation of European
Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention), the Convention on Wetlands of International
Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention), the Convention on the
Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention), the Convention on the
Conservation of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO) etc.
At the regional level, Albania is party to the Convention for the protection of the marine
environment and the coastal region of the Mediterranean and participates to numerous
programmes developed under the convention, such as the Coastal Area Management Program
(CAMP of UNEP/MAP, 1996). This programme has assisted in the coastal zone management
and identification of suitable sites for conservation such as Sazani, Karaburuni, Porto Palermo,
Ksamili and Ftelia, but further action steps are not yet undertaken.
At the national level, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Water Administration (MEFWA)
is responsible for the protection of environmental values and in particular of protected areas. The
law No. 8906 of 2002 regulates protected areas (declaration, preservation, administration and
management) and activities in protected areas such as tourism information and education.
Albania includes about 13% of its territory under conservation status, but there are no marine
protected areas (MPA).
The present report corresponds partially to the step 1 recommended by the CBD to develop a
representative network of marine protected areas. The identification of sites of interests, even if
based on an incomplete knowledge of the marine environment represents a first phase in the
process.
At the present stage, the declaration as Marine Protected Areas of the most important of the
selected sites is recommended, with the proper legislation, management team and budget.
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2.2. Existing coastal protected areas in Albania
Currently, there are no marine protected areas in Albania. The existing coastal protected areas,
including mainly coastal lagoons, river mouths and deltas are supposed to imply also marine
habitats close to them, although these marine habitats have never been stated and managed as
MPAs. Legally, they were subjects of the IUCN categorization, (accepted and applied in
Albania) and they were supposed to be managed under the same categorization as stated for the
coastal area.
Table 2: List of coastal Protected Areas in Albania
National PA Category Name of
PA
District Approval Area (ha.)
National Park (IUCN
category II)
Butrinti Saranda VKM7 nr. 693, datë 10.11.2005 8,591
Divjakë-
Karavasta
Lushnja VKM13 nr.687,datë 19.10.2007 22,230
Managed Nature Reserve
(IUCN Category IV)
Kune Lezha 07.07.1940, 1977-Rreg.MB** 800
Vain Lezha 07.07.1940, 1977-Rreg.MB** 1,500
Karaburuni
Peninsula
Vlora Urdhër MB, 22.02.1968,
1977**
20,000
Pishë Poro Vlora Urdhër MB, 1958, 1977-
Rreg.MB**
1,500
Patok-Fushë
Kuqe
Kurbini Urdhër MB, 1962, 1977-
Rreg.MB**
2,200
Rrushkull Durresi Rreg.MB 1977**,Urdhër MB
nr.2,datë 26.12.1995
650
Protected Landscape Areas
(IUCN Category (V)
Vjosë-Nartë Vlora VKM6 nr.680,datë 22.10.2004 19,738
River Buna-
Velipojë
Shkodra VKM7 nr.682,datë 02.11.2005 23,027
Notes:
VKM - Decision of Ministerial Council
Rreg.MB - Regulation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Urdhër MB - Order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
As of February 2010, there are no marine PAs; one MPA is in the process of being established with a draft
decision for the proclamation of the Karaburuni Marine Protected Area having been submitted to the
MEFWA. It is expected to be approved by the Council of Ministers.
Although a considerable coastal part of Albania is covered by the protected areas, the real status
of protection is still week for most of them. Main reasons for this situation are related to the
increased human impact through uncontrolled urbanization and tourism development, water
pollution, deforestation, illegal and uncontrolled fishing and hunting etc. Week legal and
institutional frame, inappropriate implementation of the environmental laws and regulations, law
level of public awareness and unsolved land property problems are additional reasons for the
inappropriate protection of coastal areas in Albania.
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However, the strengthening and enlargement of the protected areas system is considered as one
of the most important objectives of the Program of Work and Action Plans of the Ministry of
Environment, Forest and Water Administration. In this framework it is aimed, as a short term
objectives that the protected areas will cover 15% of the territory (currently about 10%) and a
long term objectives (year 2015) about 20% of the overall country’s surface. The bases for the
enlargement of the protected area system are the proposals made in the BSAP refined and
improved by considering recent developments and natural processes.
Claim and management of Marine Protected Areas fall under the objectives mentioned above.
Aiming to join the EU structures, Albania would need to improve its environmental quality, too.
Regarding coastal and marine protected areas, the implementation of Marine Strategy
Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) and Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) would be
important for meeting the international standards and requirements.
In the following there are some basic data about existing coastal protected areas in Albania.
Buna River - Velipoja
Status: Managed Nature Reserve and Ramsar Site
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 11662
Year: 1958 (Velipoja reserve: 700 ha);
2005 (stated Ramsar site: Shkodra Lake - Buna River – Velipoja)
Total area: 23,027 ha
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Kune - Vaini
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 11661
Year: 1960 1940, 1977
Total area: 2300 ha
Patok – Fushe Kuqe
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 11663
Year: 1962, 1977
Total area: 2200 ha
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Rrushkulli
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 11664
Year: 1955, 1977, 1995
Total area: 650 ha
Divjake - Karavasta
Status: National Park and Ramsar site
IUCN category: II
Site ID: 4679
Year: 1966, 2007 (Divjaka forest as National Park: 1250, ha 22.230 ha)
1995 (Wetland complex as Ramsar site 20,000)
Total area: 22.230 ha
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Pishe Poro/ Fier
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 11665
Year: 1958, 1977
Total area: 1500 ha
Vjosë – Nartë
Status: Protected Landscape
Year: 2004
Total area: 19,738
Narta Lagoon
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Year: 2004
Total area: 2900 ha
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Karaburuni peninsula
Status: Managed Nature Reserve
IUCN category: IV
Site ID: 12446
Year: 1968, 1977
Total area: 20.000 ha
Butrinti
Status: National Park
IUCN category: II
Site ID: 181966
Year: 2005
Total area: 8.591 ha
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3. Analyses of biodiversity, natural and cultural values of the
proposed potential MPAs
3.1. Synthesis of knowledge on biodiversity of coastal and marine
areas of Albania
The Albanian coastal area, in South-East of the Adriatic Sea and North-East of the Ionian Sea
has a length about 470 km. Territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles offshore and include a
wide range of water depths and substrate conditions.
River mouths and deltas, lagoons system, abandoned riverbeds, marshes, sandy beaches, dunes
covered with vegetation and dense forests are present in the Albanian littoral.
According to geological studies, geomorphologic classification of the Albanian coastal area
consists of two principal major zones:
a) Adriatic Coastline of Peri-Adriatic Depression in the central and northwestern part of Albania.
Adriatic coastal line from Vlora in the south up to Drini Bay in the north, have a marine
accumulation flattened littoral, a marine erosion coast and submerged areas with marine
ingressions toward the mainland, but in few areas there is a cliff coastline, too. Accumulative
areas represent main part of the coastline. Marine Quaternary littoral deposits are presented by
fine, medium, and coarse gray-white, gray-yellow sand, salty clay and mud interbeds.
Figure 1: Different habitats along Adriatic coast of Albania (a- Rrushkulli; b-Blown Sand, known as Rana e
Hedhun, c-Orikumi Lagoon; d – Lalzi, sand dunes (photos: Kashta, Beqiraj)
Blown sand in Baks Rrjolli, Velipoja
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In these accumulative coastline areas there are some relatively small erosion sectors. The capes
of Rodoni, Palla, Lagji and Treporti, composed by molasses bedrocks of the littoral anticlines of
the Periadriatic Depressions represent the erosion configurations of the Albanian Adriatic sea
coastline.
b) Erosion coastline of Ionian tectonic zone in the southwestern part of Albania. The Ionian
coast, from Karabauruni Peninsula to Stillo Island on the Greek border, is generally high and
dominated by cliffs. Along the Ionian coast erosion prevails. This coastal zone has spectacular
cliffs, grottoes, caves, hillsides, harbours, bays and some of the country’s most intact natural
areas.
Figure 2: Different habitats along Ionian coast of Albania; a: Palasa beach; b: Palasa creek; c: Himara –
Llamani Bay; d: Dhermi – Pirates Cave (photos: Kashta)
3.1.1. Knowledge on biodiversity of coastal habitats, flora and fauna
Marine ecosystems and coastal wetlands of Albania are rich in habitat typologies, animal and
plant communities and species. They represent an important part of nature heritage not only for
the country itself but also for the Mediterranean region as a whole (National Report on Marine
and Coastal Biodiversity, Tirana, 2002).
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Along the coast there still exist more than 390 km2 of transitional wetland areas that make about
50% of the wetlands for the whole Albania. They are distinguished for the richness of breeding
and refuge habitats for flora and fauna, especially for fishes and wintering of migratory and
globally threatened birds. Along the Albanian cost there are situated three wetland complexes of
International Importance (Ramsar sites): Butrinti, Karavasta Lagoon and Lake Shkodra - River
Buna. There are also 7 sites of Managed Nature Reserve (ca. 300 km2) (Karaburuni/Vlora,
Kulari, Kune-Vaini, Patoku - Fushe Kuqe, Pishe Poro/Fieri, Pishe-Poro/Vlora, Rrushkulli,
Velipoja) on the Adriatic coast. The ancient town of Butrinti is also an Unesco site, as a World
Cultural Heritage.
Albanian coast and its wetlands are important habitats for fishing and aquaculture. After FAO
Yearbooks of Fishery Statistics, in yr. 2005 fishery production increased to 5275 t (primarily sea
fish), of which 3802 t from capture and 1473 t from aquaculture
(ftp://ftp.fao.org/FI/STAT/summary/default.htm).
3.1.2. Coastal vegetation
The vegetation is represented mainly by the evergreen shrubs and partially by deciduous shrubs;
the species of last one often have thorns. Along the Adriatic coast, mainly in Divjaka (Lushnja)
and Pishe Poro (Vlora) grow up Mediterranean pine forests.
Evergreen Mediterranean shrubs of macquis are composed mainly from the species: Arbutus
unedo, Myrtus communis, Pistacia lentiscus, Erica arborea, Quercus coccifera, Spartium
junceum, Phyllirea spp., etc.
In the Southern region, it can be mentioned also special associations of deciduous shrubs, such as
those with Nerium oleander, Pistacia terebinthus, Spartium junceum and Euphorbia dendroides.
In the Ionian Riviera there grows up the Vallonea oak (Quercus ithaburensis subsp.
macrolepsis), a rare and endangered species with high economical values, which belongs to the
Mediterranean forestry and shrubby belt.
In waste areas around the coastal lagoons, in channels, ponds or freshwater marshes grow up
reed beds composed mainly of Phragmites australis, Typha latifolia and Scirpus sp. diverse.
The bottom of the lagoons is often inhabited by the submersed species, dominated by Zostera
noltii and Ruppia cirrhosa, mixed also with macroalgae like Chaetomorpha linum, Valonia
aegagropila, Enteromorpha intestinalis and Ulva laetevirens.
In the coastal wetlands and dunes there grow up halophytes, psamophytes and other brackish and
freshwater associations, represented by Ammophila arenaria, Arthocnemum spp., Artemisia
caerulecsens, Cakile maritima, Inula crithmoides, Ephedra distachia, Juncus maritima,
Limonium vulgare, Schoenus nigricans, Salicornia europaea, Sporobolus pungens, etc.
Woodlands in coastal lowlands, close to freshwater habitats, are represented by the alluvial
forests, mixed forest, coastal pine forest and freshwater woods. The most representative species
belong to Populus alba, Tamarix parviflora, Tamarix hampeana, Salix fragilis, Salix alba, Alnus
glutinosa, Fraxinus angustifolia, Vitex agnus-castus etc. Coastal pine forest is composed by
Pinus halepensis and Pinus pinea.
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3.1.3. Marine flora (Seagrasses and Algae)
Marine waters of Albania, in spite of being very scanty and poorly studied and surveyed so far,
are distinguished for their high biological diversity and very well developed littoral and benthic
communities (Anonymous, 2002).