A natural alliance

REC partners with UNDP on project to assist protected areas in Albania

June 11, 2017 | By Mihallaq Qirjo

(Clockwise from L) REC Albania Director Mihallaq Qirjo, REC Executive Director Mihail Dimovski, and Lek Kadeli, Senior Environmental Specialist from the World Bank, discuss partnership agreement details with two UNDP representatives and Argent Alltari, Director of the Minister's Cabinet, Ministry of Environment, Albania.

Albania has established a representative system of protected areas (PAs), which covers almost 16 percent of the Albanian territory. The PA system consists primarily of 15 national parks, several managed natural reserves and protected landscapes that shelter the greatest natural and biodiversity values of the country. A recent complement to this large network is a group of regional protected areas (RPAs), which are managed by local authorities.

During the last 20 years, protected areas in Albania have not been integrated into national and local development policies in ways that can make them contribute to economic and regional development. The recently established National Agency for Protected Areas (NAPA) is actively working to improve the management of protected areas according to the requirements, international standards and experience of other European countries, which will contribute both to improved nature conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. Furthermore, the Albanian Parliament adopted a new law on protected areas just a few months ago.

A new project is under way to enhance the financial sustainability of Albania's system of protected areas. Specifically, the project is designed to assist the Government of Albania in reducing existing funding gaps for the PAs; improve the management of individual protected areas; implement cost-efficiencies for individual PAs; and develop the financial management capacities of NAPA staff. 

The four-year project will be implemented by UNDP Albania, the REC, and NAPA, until 2020. The project has two main pillars: (i) to build the financial management capacities of the agency responsible for administering the system of protected areas; and (ii) to demonstrate the efficacy of different financing strategies within a sub-set of individual protected areas.

Three national parks will be the pilot target areas:

  • Dajti National Park — assessment of the feasibility of financial flows from commercial enterprises;
  • Divjaka-Karavasta National Park — assessment of the viability of activities such as fishing, farming and forestry; and
  • Llogara-Karaburuni complex — assessment of mechanisms to collect revenue from the summer influx of recreational visitors.

On June 7, 2017, in Tirana, Albania, the executive director of the REC, Mihail Dimovski, and the resident representative of UNDP Albania, Brian J. Williams, signed a partnership agreement for the implementation of this project.

“This partnership is a good basis for providing full support to Albania in strengthening the management and financial viability of the protected areas," Dimovski said. "The REC has solid experience in this field in several other countries of the region, which can be channelled efficiently to Albania.”

Mihallaq Qirjo is director of REC Albania

TAGS: Biodiversity | Nature protection | Albania