Airport construction in Albania threatens to destroy important wetland area

++ Albanian government planning to build airport in Narta Lagoon ++ Possible revision to boundary of Vjosa-Narta protected area ++ 2nd February is World Wetlands Day ++

Wetland from a bird

A bird's eye view of the Narta Lagoon: occupying a small area with a diverse range of landscapes and nutrient-rich brackish water, Albania's coastal wetlands are a hotspot for Europe's migratory birds.

© Xhemal Xherri/PPNEA
A troop of Dalmatian Pelicans on the water

Rare Dalmatian pelicans are still able to find sufficient food in the Narta Lagoon.

© Taulant Bino
Birds in the Narta Lagoon

The wetland is among others an important resting area for flamingos and Caspian terns.

© Zydjon Vorpsi/PPNEA

Radolfzell, Vlora. On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, international nature conservation foundation EuroNatur is drawing attention to the planned destruction of an important migratory bird area on the Adriatic. An international airport is scheduled to be built close to the Albanian coastal town of Vlora - right in the middle of the Narta Lagoon bird paradise, where the wild river Vjosa flows into the Adriatic Sea.

The environmental impact assessment for the construction project has drawn sharp criticism from civil society organisations and Albanian environmental experts. Scientists say the report is biased and has been deliberately produced to support the construction of the airport within the protected Vjosa-Narta landscape. "In doing so, the Albanian government is consciously ignoring international regulations because the Narta Lagoon is protected both at a national and at an international level," says EuroNatur Executive Director, Gabriel Schwaderer.

On 28 November, in a symbolic act on Albania’s national Flag Day, the country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama officially opened the construction site for the mega-project. Although all is quiet there at the moment, it is likely that construction work will pick up speed from March onwards. Additionally, many observers expect the Albanian government to announce a revision to the boundaries of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Area, which is also protected under the provisions of the Bern Convention. This is because national law prohibits the construction of an airport in a protected area.

The Narta Lagoon is facing the same fate as many other wetlands around the world. The destruction of lakes and rivers, bogs and marshes, lagoons and coasts is not just devastating for the biodiversity of our planet, it is also devastating for the climate. World Wetlands Day focuses attention on the importance of protecting this habitat.


Background Information:

  • World Wetlands Day 2022: World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This year's theme is "Value - Manage - Restore - Love Wetlands": https://www.worldwetlandsday.org
  • Narta Lagoon: The Narta Lagoon is Albania’s second most important waterbird habitat. The 42 km² wetland plays a key role in bird migration along the Adriatic coast and is an important feeding ground for endangered Dalmatian pelicans. Here, on a largely untouched stretch of coast, the Vjosa - one of Europe’s last large, unspoilt wild rivers - flows into the Adriatic. Find out more about our river projects: https://www.euronatur.org/en/what-we-do/river-protection-in-europe

 

Enquiries: Christian Stielow, E-Mail: christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 (0)7732 - 92 72 15

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