Professor Dr Pëllumb Abeshi, Director General of Environment Policies at the Ministry of Environment Forest and Water Administration (MoEFWA) in Albania talks about opportunities, expectations and implementation of the “Institutional Support for Protected Areas in Albania” project.
- What was the reason for choosing the two protected sites targeted by the project?
The two sites were selected considering the overall system of protected areas in Albania. Since we are creating management plan models for them, we selected these protected areas because they represent the two categories with the biggest share in the Albanian protected areas system. Shebenik National Park is under IUCN category II: National parks and the Buna River-Velipojë Protected Landscape fits under IUCN Category V: Protected landscapes. These two sites also represent the most important ecosystem types in Albania, including mountain forests and costal lagoons.
- What are your expectations for the project?
This is a capacity building project. By the end of the project, in addition to the two management plans prepared for the two selected sites, we expect to have established a well defined process and procedures for the preparation of management plans in other sites in the country. We also expect that officials both at central and local level are trained on these procedures.
- What opportunities do you see for cross-border cooperation with Macedonia and Montenegro, the two neighbouring countries of these sites?
An important criterion that has influenced the selection of the two sites is the opportunity to work in a transboundary context. In Albania we have already some good examples of crossborder cooperation with both Shkodra lake in Montenegro and Ohrid and Prespa Lakes in Macedonia. So, there are several opportunities here, from joint activities to the exchange of monitoring data, capacity building sessions, etc.
- What is the commitment of your Ministry towards ensuring continuity to the activities once the project is completed?
The management plans developed for these projects will serve as a good basis for continuing the proper management of the areas. Most importantly we will try to implement the processes and procedures for management planning developed for these projects to other protected area initiatives, for example, the management plans for the SELMA project financed by the European Union. The MoEFWA will continue its commitment toward improving protected areas management through proper budget allocation and improved staffing and capacities now and in the future.