Bird paradise in Albania threatened by construction of an airport

++ An airport is to be built in the Narta Lagoon on the Adriatic ++ A stopover site of major international importance for migratory water birds ++ 8th May is World Migratory Bird Day ++

Drone footage of Albanian Narta Lagoon

The Narta Lagoon from a bird's eye view: With its many diverse landscapes in a very small area and the nutritious brackish water, the wetland is a hotspot for Europe’s migratory birds.

© Xhemal Xherri/PPNEA
Dalmatian Pelicans in Albanian Narta Lagoon

For the rare Dalmatian pelican, the Narta lagoon is one of the most important feeding grounds in Albania.

© Taulant Bino
Flamingos and Caspian terns in Albanian Narta Lagoon

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

© Zydjon Vorpsi/PPNEA

Vlora, Tirana, Radolfzell. On the occasion of the World Migratory Bird Day on 8th May, the internationally active conservation foundation EuroNatur and its Albanian partner organisation PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania) will be drawing attention to the great threat to Europe’s migratory birds. The Albanian government is planning the construction of an airport in the Narta Lagoon. The Vjosa, one of the last great free flowing rivers in Europe flows into the sea here, one of the most unspoilt areas of coastline along the Adriatic. The 42 sq.km. wetland plays a key role for migration along the Adriatic coast, and is one of the most important feeding areas for the endangered Dalmatian pelican.

Although the Narta Lagoon enjoys protected status, both nationally and internationally, Albania’s prime minister, Edi Rama, is planning an airport in this very place in order to stimulate tourism in the southern part of the country. There have been plans for an airport since 2018, but now the Albanian government has just signed the contract for the project, in spite of the fact that there has been no environmental impact survey carried out. “By doing this, the government has not only broken its own laws, but also international agreements,” says Gabriel Schwaderer, Executive director of EuroNatur. “We are convinced that a rigorous evaluation could only come to one conclusion, namely that the planned airport is incompatible with the protection of the Narta-Vjosa ecosystem,” Schwader continues.

EuroNatur and its partners have been arguing for years for the protection of the Vjosa and its delta. Their goal is the first wild river national park in Europe reaching from its source to its mouth. The construction of an airport in the Narta Lagoon would thwart these plans. Zydjon Vorpsi from our Albanian partner organisation PPNEA adds: „If the infrastructure project in the Vjosa Narta protected zone is carried out, it would set a terrible precedent and would be an open door to the construction of tourist resorts, airports etc in other protected wetland areas in Albania.”


Background information:

  • Adriatic-Flyway: The migration of waterbirds of central, northern and eastern Europe is concentrated along the so-called Adriatic Flyway, which runs across the Balkans, the Adriatic and southern Italy to North Africa. One of the most important resting areas along the Albanian coast is the Narta Lagoon.
  • Word Migratory Bird Day is celebrated twice a year on a Saturday in May and October to draw attention to the need for international cooperation on the protection of birds. Events include bird festivals, education programmes and film showings. This year, the slogan for the day is “Sing, Fly, Soar – Like a Bird!”
  • The Vjosa is the last river in Europe which is unspoilt along its entire length. The Albanian government has plans for several dams, two of which would be in its middle stretches. The alternative vision is the creation of the first wild river national park in Europe, which EuroNatur and its partners have been intensively campaigning for, especially in view of the parliamentary elections on 25th April.


Contact:
Christian Stielow, EuroNatur | christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org |+49 7732 – 927215
Klejn Ngraçani, PPNEA | k.ngracani(at)ppnea.org | +355697334996

 

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