Dinaric Arc Parks in Albania - Results and challanges ahead
Tirana – 5 November 2014 - The representatives of the Ministry of Environment, tourism experts, the specialists of protected areas, and members of local government gathered at Hotel Tirana to attend presentation of results and findings of the project "Dinaric Arc Parks" in Albania. The project started in October 2013 and was implemented by WWF in collaboration with INCA (Institute of Nature Conservation in Albania) and the Ministry of Environment. The analysis of the results was focused on four main components: integration into network of regional cooperation; communication for PAs; assessment of the benefits of PA, and development of sustainable tourism. Dinaric Arc Project supported the establishment of the Albanian network of PAs’ specialists which collaborates with the colleagues from Western Balkan region, for improving PAs management and promoting our common destination - Parks Dinarides. By developing 13 workshops throughout Albania, WWF experts collected multidimensional data at national and local level that could be used by central and local institutions in preparation of the management. Data analysis shows that national parks have a special significance in the development of sectors such as tourism and rural economies, supplying the population with drinking water, providing energy through the timber, and supporting livestock production.
The project promoted nature tourism through the publication and distribution of a bilingual brochure on Albanian nature destinations. Over 12,000 promotional brochures are being distributed at the borders of Albania in entry points of national parks, tourism agencies and tour operators. Promotion of PAs heritage aimed not only protecting their natural values but also developing opportunities for the communities living in these areas. Actually WWF is supporting the application process of Valbona National Park for the membership in European Parks Federation. This will make Valbona NP, the first park in Albania where tourism development is planned to be built in a sustainable way.
The regional manager of DAP, Mr. Leon Kebe said among others in his speech "We are pleased to share the results of our work in Albania with various stakeholders. Our long term goal is to support the Albanian specialists towards effective management of PAs, but on the circumstances when these specialists lack or do not perform their duty inside their PAs, it is very difficult to talk about support, management and achievements in the field of nature protection. WWF is committed to work in sustainable development projects, in order to make people understand that protecting nature is not a disadvantage for the economic development of PAs communities, rather it is an excellent opportunity to improve the lives of local residents ". While Mrs. Elvana Ramaj, Director of Biodiversity at Ministry of Environment informed the participants that government intends to establish a PAs management agency in order to improve the current situation in PAs. DAP project is followed by two other projects of WWF in Albania. The first project is focused in development of a management plan for sustainable tourism in the Karaburun-Sazan NP while the third one aims at raising the awareness of decision makers about the risks of hydropower construction, as the only way to produce energy for the country.