Mr. Valentin Gocaj, Agriculture expert in Commune of Anan e Malit is engaged with the “Institutional support for Protected Areas in Albania” project as a socio-economic local collaborator. He believes that living inside a protected area can be a challenge for the local community. The community needs to take action to protect this area of national importance while at the same time also make wise use of it and its resources for development. “The advantage of being in a protected area is that the protection status allows a well planed and carefully designed development of the area, harmonized at the national level,” says Mr. Gocaj.
- What opportunities and challenges does life in a protected area bring?
Protected areas represent a real opportunity for sustainable economic development through the promotion of traditional practices, as agriculture and livestock breeding as well as new ones, like tourism.
- What do you think about the work being done within IUCN’s project?
IUCN’s project is first of all working on the real assessment of biodiversity and socio-economic features of the area, and analyzing the attitude of the community towards nature. A positive aspect of this project is that it is trying to promote and support the cooperation between communities and local authorities, making them work together for biodiversity conservation, sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation. The project emphasizes the effective and wise use of resources, consolidates proper relations between people and the environment, redefines roles and responsibilities as well as future polices for economic development and nature protection.
- What are the benefits of being a local collaborator?
Working as a local collaborator in this project is a great opportunity for me. My colleagues and I directly benefit from the experience of qualified international experts. We learn how to use modern methodologies on data collection and analysis that are closely related to our every day job in the commune. We are also participating in the development of the management plan using the decision support system (DSS) planning scheme and methodology in identifying and analyzing problems related to the use of natural resources of the area as well as proposing appropriate solutions. The participatory approach used during this project is not only an opportunity to really contribute to the planning efforts for the area but also a way to get firsthand experience that should be replicated in other planning and/or decision making processes in our communes.
- What, in your opinion, needs to be improved in the management of the area?
The most important improvement needed in the management of the area is law enforcement. There is need for better cooperation between different institutions and authorities at central and local levels. The rehabilitation and/or improvement of flood protection measures, irrigation and drainage channels would provide better support to the development of agriculture in the area. On the other hand, the communes should focus more and work harder on addressing issues related to waste management and awareness raising as well to promote the tourism values of this area.
Prepared by Genti Kromidha, INCA