Albania plans to build airport in protected area

New international airport to be constructed in Narta Lagoon ++ Albanian parliament approved the project yesterday ++ EuroNatur and its partners call for an earnest environmental impact assessment

Young Dalmatian Pelicans in the Narta-Lagoon © Taulant Bino
The Narta Lagoon is also a valuable habitat for flamingos. © Ferdinand Bego

In an open letter to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, EuroNatur CEO Gabriel Schwaderer calls for an environmental impact assessment that meets international standards. “We are convinced that a serious assessment can only conclude that the planned airport is incompatible with preserving the Narta-Vjosa ecosystem”, Schwaderer writes in his letter.

Stretching over 42 km², the Narta Lagoon is situated at the Southern part of the Vjosa river mouth, where one of the last unblocked wild rivers of Europe (apart from Russia) flows into the Adriatic Sea in a largely untouched coastal strip. The area is vital for bird migration along the Adriatic coastline and is an important feeding ground of the endangered Dalmatian pelican.

Despite the fact that the Narta Lagoon is a protected area, the Albanian government plans to build an airport right there to boost tourism in the south of the country. Construction works are set to begin already this year. “Building an airport in this place would irreversibly damage the ecosystem”, Schwaderer warns.


Background information:
The Adriatic Flyway: In their migration the water birds of Central, North and East Europe largely follow the so-called Adriatic Flyway, which runs right across the Balkans, the Adriatic and Southern Italy and over to North Africa.
The Vjosa is the last big wild river in Europe outside Russia. Entirely unobstructed, she flows through inaccessible gorges and sections with enormous gravel banks and islands on her course of almost 270 kilometers from the Pindus Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.
• The campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans. The campaign is coordinated by the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and carried out together with partner organisations in the Balkan countries.

Contact details: Christian Stielow, e-mail: christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 7732 - 927215

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