Pogradec: The third workshop on the development of the action plan for the ecological corridor took place

The third workshop took place in Tushemisht on January 17th, 2024.  In this workshop there attended 10 people from the targeted stakeholders. The representatives from Pogradec, Maliq and Korça Municipalities, Korça RAPA and NGOs sector discussed on the key issues that present in this area of the CCA.

During the workshop the representative of the Municipality of Pogradec expressed its support for the project activities and support for the approval and implementation of the action plan. Meanwhile, the representatives of Maliq municipality, for objective reasons, were unable to participate in the meeting, although the place and date of the meeting had been consulted and agreed before. The fundamental problems in this area are related to the management of water resources and the impacts of climate change in the territory, such as the case of the Pogradec Lake, but especially the case of the Devolli River. The Qukes-Qafeplloc road is also expected to have a significant impact on this corridor. The stakeholders also agreed on the common vision of the Action Plan for the CCA that is: “CCA “Polis-Valamare-Rungaje-Moravë-Gramoz” is a well-managed area, which provides and preserves ecological connectivity between ecological centres, including cross-border areas and where natural resources are used in a sustainable way to contribute to local economic development”.

During the meeting, in addition to the agreement on the proposals discussed with other municipalities, specific management activities for the Maliq and Pogradec Municipality area were specifically proposed as follows: a) Integration and promotion of Transhumance and its potential as part of the UNESCO Heritage, for some time it is very present in the territory of Pogradec Municipality; b) Protective measure to stop the discharge of used water in the river Devolli and the protection of the vegetation (shrubs/grass) on its banks, the impact on the preservation of water quality.

After being provided with the OECM concept, the representatives at the meeting identified and proposed two suitable areas for the announcement as OECM: Bishnice Forest Economy, and Moglice Lake.

The municipalities express their willingness to support the process of starting the evaluation of the territory as OECM and it remains to be verified if the plans of the Ministry of Environment include these areas in the areas proposed as Protected Areas. During the meeting, the area of Cangoji and Pylli i Fazani were also proposed, which for some time have the status of ZM and cannot be included in the proposal for OECM.

The experts and representatives of local NGOs particularly appreciated the case of the TAP project, which could serve as a model of how to respect the environment from Projects and investments that can be developed in the area by the public or private sector.

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.