Tirana 19 October 2021. The Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, on its last meeting, called on the Albanian government to review the plan for the construction of Vlora Airport. The Committee shared the deep concern regarding the plan for the urbanization of the Vjosa-Narta protected area and emphasizing the values of the natural values of the area, demanded the implementation of a strong protected regime.
The issue of the Vlora airport project was included in the complaint previously filed by EcoAlbania on the Presumed negative impact of hydro-power plant development on the Vjosa river, where the construction of the airport in Vjosë-Nartë protected area is included as an imminent threat to the Vjosa delta ecosystem . “Major development projects such as the airport and hydropower plants endanger the Vjosa Valley, a unique ecosystem with rich biodiversity, thus our efforts to preserve it are being strongly supported by international institutions such as the Standing Committee of Bern. We, as a civil society, have been demanding the declaration of the entire Vjosa valley as a national park for a long time. Our proposal is to include also the Vjosa delta, part of which is the Narta lagoon “, said Olsi Nika, from EcoAlbania.
Last February, about 40 national and international environmental organizations asked the government to cancel the project for building the Vlora International Airport in the Vjosë-Nartë Protected Landscape. “Narta Lagoon is one of the most important wetlands in Albania and the Mediterranean and plans for its urbanization risk damaging its ecosystem irreversibly,” said Aleksandër Trajçe from PPNEA.
The Standing Committee of the Bern Convention opened the case on the hydropower plants in Vjosa since 2018, asking the Albanian government to immediately suspend the Poçem and Kalivaç hydropower plants until the necessary strategic planning and environmental assessments are made. While the attention recently given by the Bureau to the Vjosa Delta, reinforces the voice of environmental organizations that are concerned about this project.
“The protected landscape Vjosë-Nartë, is one of the protected areas with extraordinary biological diversity in Albania and without a doubt one of the most important areas in Europe from the ecological point of view. Vjosë-Nartë serves as a migration corridor for many creatures and especially for migratory birds. For this reason, it is also globally recognized as an area of special value and is part of almost all international networks of areas of importance for nature conservation. This fact must be respected in the first place by the Albanian government itself to prevent the impact of any development project that damages this ecosystem “, said Taulant Bino from AOS.
The Council of Europe Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife and Natural Habitats, otherwise known as the Berne Convention, is a mandatory international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, covering most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extending to some African countries. Albania ratified the Berne Convention in January 1999 and its implementation entered into force in May of the same year. Violation of this convention may confront the country with diplomatic pressure as well as various sanctions that may be taken by the European Union or unilaterally by other countries that have ratified this convention.