Today, on the World Wetlands Day, the Save the Wetlands event took place in the Narta lagoon. Forty students from the city of Vlora travelled just north to the Vjosë-Nartë Protected Area to participate in a morning of birdwatching and other educational activities led by EcoAlbania’s project team in cooperation with Protected Areas Administration of Vlorë.
Standing on the shore of the lagoon in the dazzling winter sunlight, biologist Betilda Ahmeti introduced the children to the many avian species that call Narta home during the winter, including egrets, flamingos, the Dalmatian pelican and other waterbirds. Passing round binoculars and enjoying their first chance to use professional birdwatching telescopes, the 6th– 10th grade children from “Reald School Vlorë were thrilled by the great variety of wildlife living just a few kilometres from their home city. While many of the children had visited Zvërneci monastery on the south side of the lagoon, closer to the Vlora metropolitan area, few had ever had a chance to get this close to the birds feeding in the shallow waters of the lagoon and the saline pools to the north of the city, and their enthusiasm was clear.
In a question-and-answer session coordinated by EcoAlbania colleague Marjana Çereku, the children and their teachers expressed their own views on the current situation of the area, which faces an uncertain future due to plans for the construction of an airport within the zone. Although there have been many aesthetic improvements to the roads and walkways of Vlora in recent times, the Save the Wetlands event also aimed to demonstrate the value of having such a beautiful natural site within easy access of the city, both for its eco-tourism potential and as a vital habitat for its non-human inhabitants.
After a short break, the event relocated to another area of the wetlands for a final round of activities, and finally the class returned to school with pleasant memories and hopefully the ability to impress their friends and families with their new knowledge of the magnificent local birdlife.