Supporting the Long-Term Sustainable Management of Transboundary Lake Skadar

12 November 2013 | Project description

Improving practices and capacity for management of protected areas, the project intends to foster the effective management of biodiversity of Skadar Lake, natural border between Albania and Montenegro. Being largest on the Balkan Peninsula, Skadar Lake witnessed a number of political agreements toward its improved management and international conservation efforts. With its partners, IUCN will build on the gathered experience and establish a cross-border exchange platform for protected area authorities and other stakeholders to work jointly and ensure the sustainable future of the shared lake.

Covering an area of 5,490 km2, Skadar is the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula. It shows a high diversity of plants and animals, totalling around 930 species of algae, 497 vascular plants, and 430 zooplankton and microfauna species. It is home to 53 fish and 51 herpetofauna species, 282 bird species, and 50 mammals species. Due to the high biological diversity it is subject to a number of national and international designations - in Montenegro it has status of a National Park while it is a Nature Reserve in Albania. Internationally it is designated as Ramsar and Emerald site, and an Important Bird and Plant Area. Despite extraordinary values and the multiple protection status of Skadar Lake, several unsustainable management and development patterns can be observed in the area. They are primarily related to the weak management of biodiversity and natural resources, unplanned urbanization and illegal construction, poaching and human disturbance of species. The cooperation across border is sporadic with little or no joint conservation activities.

Given that the lake is shared between Albania and Montenegro, it is clear that all future management planning processes should be done in coordination between the two countries. Apart from capacities and joint management objectives, two important preconditions for effective protected area management are public participation in the management of protected areas.

IUCN Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe (IUCN SEE) will contribute to this process in partnership with the Institute for Nature Conservation in Albania – INCA and Green Home of Montenegro, putting in action the vast experience the partners have on the cross-border conservation of protected areas. Since its establishment in 2004 IUCN SEE has been supporting regional and site-based transboundary conservation initiatives and projects. Over the years it has developed numerous knowledge products and high quality capacity building programmes, and worked on global guidelines on transboundary cooperation. Both partners, INCA and Green Home, have a broad experience in working on the management of Lake Skadar in its transboundary context and with respect to public participation. The partners will closely cooperate with Public Enterprise National Parks of Montenegro - Skadar Lake National Park management authority and the Department of Protected Areas in the Forestry Services Directorate in Shkodra as well as local authorities, local communities and relevant resource managers.

Project results:

  • Practices and capacity of national authorities for management of protected areas in Albania and Montenegro improved
  • Cross-border exchange platform for protected area authorities and stakeholders established
  • Illegal activities diminished by strengthening law enforcement
  • Participation of civil society organizations in monitoring and protected area management increased
  • Transparency increased and awareness raised among key stakeholders and resource managers on the importance of biodiversity conservation.

The 3 years long project is funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

For more information contact Tomasz Pezold, Project Officer at IUCN’s Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe.