Gramsh: 2nd workshop on the development of the action plan for the ecological corridor Polis-Valamarë-Rungajë-Moravë-Gramoz

On January 11th, 2024, the second workshop on the development of the action plan for the ecological corridor Polis-Valamarë-Rungajë-Moravë-Gramoz, took place in Gramsh. The workshop took place in the Culture Center of Gramsh town where 13 people from the targeted stakeholders attended. The Mayor of the Gramsh Municipality emphasised the role and commitment of local municipalities in the process is the main factor of the success of the project. The municipalities continue to support the activities of the project and express their solidarity for the approval and implementation of the action plan. Unlike Librazhd and Përrenjas municipalities, Gramsh municipality expresses better cooperation with HPPs companies. However, the problem with HPPs remains stable as requests for construction of new HPPs are still in the agenda.

Another point of discussion has been the natural and cultural values in terms of tourist development with the focus on key areas such as Grabove, that is underexploited due to lack of supporting infrastructure. Unexploited tourist potential and the need to increase the income that the growing tourist activity brings to the territory of Gramsh municipality was discussed largely within the participants in this workshop. The need for investments in energy infrastructure, water supply and the transport network have been the key issues that were raised. As key management activities that are of high interest for Gramsh Municipality include: a) the revision of the Local General Plan for tourist areas and infrastructure in support of tourism in the area around the lakes; b) adoption of plans for fires, emergency routes and fire corridors; c) Cooperation between neighbouring municipalities for joint plans in function of environmental protection and tourist activities; and d) increase of the logistic capacities for the management institutions such as Municipalities and RAPAs.

During the meeting was also agreed on the vision of the ecological corridor where the Gramsh Municipality stakeholders share the same commitment as the other stakeholders of the CCA. Finally, during the meeting, the participants highlighted that is essential the cooperation between the structures of Gramsh Municipality and its neighbour Municipalities, especially in the forest sector and the control and monitoring of illegal activities in the territory. The municipality and other participants express its willingness to support the process of starting the evaluation of the territory as OECM.

About the ecological corridor:

The “Polis-Valamare-Rungajë-Moravë-Gramoz” ecological corridor is located in south-eastern Albania and represents a remote and mountainous region partially including the municipalities of Librazhd, Përrenjas, Pogradec, Gramsh, Maliq, and Skrapar with an area of around 1600 km2. The corridor provides an important shelter for a significant number of species, allowing for their movement between the existing protected areas. The project area is particularly important for sustaining populations of large mammals, including brown bears, grey wolves, and the critically endangered Balkan lynx.

However, the corridor is significantly threatened by habitat fragmentation due to logging, fires, urbanization, unsustainable land use practices mainly used for agricultural purposes, and poor management of natural resources, risking to compromise corridor’s ecosystems and biodiversity integrity, and its connectiveness. Despite the fact that most of the corridor is excluded from the protected areas network, it remains a significantly important area that enables the movement of important species, especially those that require a vast habitat.

The corridors address the connectivity between five protected areas: Shebenik National Park, Stravaj-Sopot Natural Park, Pogradeci Lake Protected Landscape, Guri I Nikes – Lenie- Valamare, and Mali i Tomorrit National Park.