++ The EC calls on the authorities to take into account the concerns raised by civil society on the delineation of the network’s boundaries for protected areas ++
Tirana, July 27, 2023. In the Progress Report of the European Commission for Albania in 2022, important environmental issues were highlighted, reinforcing the efforts of civil society and calling on the institutions to take actions towards solving them. Among them it is welcomed the establishment of the Vjosa Wild River National Park, the first wild river national park in Europe and commended the efforts of civil society in the run-up to the park’s establishment. While calling on the authorities to take into account the concerns raised by civil society on the delineation of the network’s boundaries for protected areas.
The Vjosa case has always taken an important part in the recommendations of the European Commission in the environment chapter, where since 2015, it has asked the Albanian authorities to stop the hydropower plants and create the Vjosa National Park. “We are happy that this long-awaited result is also reflected in the last Progress Report, showing the continued international interest and emphasizing the fact that Vjosa continues to remain among the priority environmental issues for the country”, said Olsi Nika, Executive Director of EcoAlbania.
The work for the operation of the park has already started and decision-making institutions in cooperation with international organizations are drawing up plans and guiding documents for the operation of the park, such as: Management Plan, Tourism Master Plan, zoning, etc.
“While the process of delineation of the boundaries of protected areas is another issue that we as a coalition of environmental organizations are pursuing legally, as we consider it wrong and not based on in-depth studies or comprehensive consultations”, Nika added.
Other hot environmental topics such as the Skavica hydropower, Vlora International Airport, hydropower plants in protected areas, as well as the fight against environmental crime are highlighted in the report as some important points to take urgent action and to halt projects that risk violating national and international biodiversity protection norms.