Albania, breathtaking and promising!
At the last day of the activity organized in the Soča valley Tolmin, Slovenia, on 24th -30th of august 2014, we tried to show the situation of the Albnanian rivers in our country as well as the ways of how to work on the protestion of their natural values. Hardly familiar with Albania at all, the audience was quite surprised and impressed by this presentation. Albanian Alps have breathtaking headwater settings with pristine rivers which –thanks to their hydro-morphological and physic-chemical conditions- hold a great potential for hosting healthy wild trout populations.
On the other hand, the economic situation in Albania is a serious threat for the Albanian natural heritage, especially in such remote parts. In this respect the plans for the construction of whole series of hydropower dams are a point of particular interest.
Inspiration, however, was found on the spot, in Tolmin, in the showcase of our very host city. Introducing catch & release flyfishing to the Soča River and its tributaries had generated a substantial and sustainable source of income for the local community. And it still does. Since this is believed to be a most adequate way of creating a win-win relationship between nature and people, also courage was drawn right from this example. Then, after discussing, and empowered by the ultimate Leitmotiv “why not?” we decided to just go for it – CTCF, CT-Albania (EcoAlbania), and our partners.
Meanwhile we have defined a starting point project area in the Albanian Alps – Accursed Mountains, which extend from northern Albania to eastern Montenegro and Kosovo. The Valbona River is Albania’s largest and probably has the highest potential of all in terms of biodiversity and biomass in the Albanian Alps. Almost the entire watershed is situated in a National Park. We already have good and steady contacts in the region, some of them even having undertaken initiatives to develop eco-tourism by creating a basic infrastructure. What’s more, the Valbona trout do have some fame, not only in the region, also beyond. However the trout population due to illegal fishing is dramatically decreased in the last years, but the potential of the habitat is still so inviting to undertake some initiatives for restoration and most probably to succeed. Their reputation will help further profiling (the safeguarding of) these trout as a means and as a mascot for enhancing the local situation and its economy, which is much welcomed by the local communities of the Valbona River valley.