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National plans and institutional framework for biodiversity conservation and protected area management.

Some of the protected areas in the Protected Area Network system are “paper parks” to some degree, and certain ecosystems such as wetlands are under-represented in the network. To assist Albania in expanding and strengthening its system of protected areas, the following actions are recommended:

(a) Assess the capacity of national and local authorities and local communities to contribute to the improvements that are needed in the management of protected areas. Identify critical gaps in the network and collaborate to develop a national plan to extend the network as needed.

(b) Assess the institutional arrangements for protected area management, including financing mechanisms to support conservation initiatives.

(c) Assess the capacity and training needs of the agencies responsible for managing protected areas at the national and local levels, taking into consideration the creation of a special administration structure for PAs management.

(d) Improvement of public access to information and environmental decision making, specifically on the sustainable use of biodiversity. In 2001, the Parliament ratified the Aarhus Convention on Public Access to Environmental Information and Decision Making, which provides an enabling environment for achieving this (the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, usually known as the Aarhus Convention, was signed on June 25, 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus). It is important to finance an assessment of existing institutional capacities for widening public access to information and participation in decision making on environmental issues, and an assessment of laws and regulations concerning the management of natural resources that may need to be amended to be in compliance with the Aarhus convention.

Evaluation and suggestions to mitigate specific threats to biodiversity components.

Albanian ecosystems, especially its forest, grassland, and wetland ecosystems, were heavily impacted by economic activities under the communist regime. Some 250,000 ha of forests and pastures were converted to agricultural uses. About a third of forest and pasture lands are highly eroded. Overgrazing, unmanaged fishing and hunting activities, and unsustainable forest practices have led to the deterioration of ecosystems and significant reduction in their productivity and ability to support biodiversity. An assessment of methodologies for the evaluation and mitigation of threats to biodiversity is also needed for forest, wetland and marine ecosystems.

Forest Ecosystems comprise an important part of Albania’s biodiversity. Over the last 50 years, the degradation and loss of biodiversity from Albania’s 1M hectares of forest ecosystems has been substantial. More than 50 % of the total threatened vertebrates and about 30% of the endangered plant species in Albania occur in forest ecosystems. This negative biodiversity trend has been caused mainly by “mining” of forest and game resources, and the trends have worsened substantially since independence. One of Albania’s highest requirements is the restoration of depleted forest ecosystems, however specific mitigation measures, financing mechanisms, and national capacity for undertaking these need to be assessed.




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