The protection and conservation of the environmental heritage is assuming more than ever a central role in the life of our planet. Its protection requires a joint effort to be undertaken to avoid or limit the damage caused by human activity and to support nature’s ability to self-regenerate.
Protected areas are an essential component for the conservation of the environmental heritage, which need a harmonious integration with the communities, with the aim of ensuring long-term sustainability. The management of protected areas involves different actors, tools and powers and is embedded in multiple levels of rules and decision-making processes (government, private sector, local communities and non-governmental organizations). The creation of a multistakeholder governance system has the potential to produce multiple benefits in terms of biodiversity protection and socio-economic development, through the formation of alliances and partnerships between the stakeholders concerned, as a means of developing consensus efficiently and distribute the skills and resources available.
Nowadays in Albania protected areas cover 15.8% of the whole country’s territory. In particular, forests play a decisive role as they constitute the leading part of these sites. However, their effective management is still very precarious and there are structural problems that make it difficult to pursue lasting effects in environmental protection and the abundant biodiversity. In fact, the level of protection achieved in many protected areas remains precarious and illegal exploitation phenomena (such as deforestation, hunting or construction), which threaten their preservation, are still widespread.
In order to preserve biodiversity, it is very important to expand protected surfaces and areas, with the aim of including all types of ecosystems in this network, as one of the key elements for a sustainable development. The expansion and strengthening of the network of protected areas, as the foundation for the creation of the Ecological Network of the country and as part of the European Natura 2000 network, is seen as one of the most important objectives of the Action Plan for Biodiversity in Albania.
Within this framework is part the ACAP Project – “Community Action for the Conservation of Protected Areas of Albania”, financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by COSV – Coordination of Organizations for Voluntary Service, CELIM, INCA and the ‘Albanian Agency of Protected Areas (NAPA) since 2018. The main objective of the project is the protection of the natural heritage, the promotion of forms of participatory governance of the protected areas and the sustainable socio-economic development of the identified target areas such as Valona, Gjirokaster and Berat.
To reduce environmental impact related to human activity, the project focuses in professional training for park guards and officials, awareness raising activities involving local communities and businessesat the same time the project aims to promote forms of responsible tourism, green economy and the use of renewable energies.
In the area of Vlora COSV has founded, through the CAF Fund – Community Action Fund- project implemented by the local organization CERCI. CERCI organized some interventions including a nature trail within the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area, the renovation of some bunkers using street art. The crew 167 / Street and Mr. Fjodor came from Italy to revitalize through murals the bunkers in the area fo Vjosa -Narta and the former SODA industrial site, that is considered one of the most polluted areas in the entire city. The goal of the action was to raise awareness in the local community about the importance of the protection of the environment plays in our lives. Furthermore, through the combination of the nature trail that ends in the area where the bunkers are located, the aim is to diversify the cultural offer and promote sustainable tourism itineraries.
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