++The need for synergistic actions in the protection of the National Park
“Divjakë-Karavasta” from urbanization brings civil society and the scientific community together++
Tirana, December 12, 2017. Representatives of national and international environmental NGOs, environmental experts, donors and activists gathered yesterday in a forum dedicated to the “Divjakë-Karavasta” National Park to join forces in the defense of National Parks in Albania. Even though National Parks are protected according to the environmental legislation in force, they are being exposed every day more and more to concrete risks for the benefits and narrow interests of some foreign and local businesses.
The “Divjakë-Karavasta” National Park, declared since 1994, with an area of more than 22,200 ha, protects a unique ecosystem of lagoons, sand dunes and pine forests with rich flora and fauna. There you can find the country’s oldest pine forests, with trees more than 400 years old, and it is one of the most important places for migratory birds along the entire Eastern Adriatic coast, as well as the only place where the Pelican nests. Curly – an endangered species.
However, this unique ecosystem is today more threatened than ever by the mass concretization model proposed by the Mabetex Group. This massive development, not at all friendly to the environment, in the heart of the Park poses a serious risk to the wetland complex, to the network of Protected Areas in Albania, as well as to the future of ecosystems as a whole. “The role of the state must be decisive in every development project presented, especially when it comes to protected areas. In such cases, the state should not function only as an acceptor of proposals from large investors, but should also take on the role of carrying out studies”, said Gjergj Buxhuku, Director of the Confederation of Industries of Albania. While Mihallaq Qirjo, Lecturer at the University of Tirana and Director of the Regional Environmental Center (REC Albania) explained that “A Protected Area should serve communities with non-aggressive development models, as otherwise the costs of such decision-making either we will always carry them or they will be too expensive to undo”.
Although it remains a project not approved yet, the civil society is committed to stop this project in time, opposing it with all democratic forms. “We have followed step by step all the information and public consultations developed by the company and the decision-makers, despite the late announcement which did not leave us enough time for the consultation of the materials. However, we still do not have an official answer from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism regarding the status of this project”, said Taulant Bino, from AOS – Ornithological Association of Albania.
The issue has also concerned international organizations, where some of them present in this forum encourage the Albanian Government to respect the conventions ratified by Albania and guarantee the protection of one of the most important wetlands in the Mediterranean.
The construction project aims at the occupation and alienation of 10% of the Park’s territory, while the accompanying, supporting infrastructure (roads, lighting, electrical network, breakwaters, etc.) will negatively affect its entire surface. Stretched over 12 km of coastline, the project envisages the construction of 2400 apartments, 370 villas, a tourist resort of 90 ha with a maximum capacity of hosting 18,000 tourists/day.
This forum is organized as part of the awareness campaign “Stop Urbanization of the National Park “Divjakë-Karavasta”, undertaken by a group of national organizations (AOS, EcoAlbania, LexFerenda and Pseda-Iliria) which is supported by LëvizAlbania and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
This is the third public forum that the coalition of civil society organizes to make the public aware of the negative impacts of the urbanization project in KP “Divjakë-Karavasta”.