Meeting Minister Kumbaro for the protected areas

EN| A number of Civil Society Organizations and representatives of scientific and academic institutions of the country held yesterday, Friday, October 29, 2021, a meeting with Mrs. Kumbaro, Minister of Tourism and Environment.
The meeting was requested by about 50 organizations part of the grouping for the cause of protection of the protected areas (PA) from the unfair process of border review, initiated by the Ministry of Tourism and Environment since 2019.
As in the last two years, the group of NGOs and representatives of scientific and academic institutions was extremely critical of the process followed by the Ministry and the impact of this process, especially in coastal wetlands that are 3also the epicenter of biological diversity. of Albania.

The group reiterated that:
1. The process followed to date by the Ministry is contrary to the legislation on Protected Areas and the entire legal framework for public consultation that guarantees transparency in decision-making;
2. The consequences of this hasty reassessment in Protected Areas, not in accordance with the laws and unscientific, are extremely negative for the national biological diversity and especially for the wetland PAs that are also international PAs (Ramsar, IBA, KBA, Emerald and Natura 2000).

Almost the same position is held by the international institutions:
1. Addressing the event in detail, the EU Delegation to Albania states in its recent progress report (2021) that the National Council of the Territory has approved without public consultation the revised map of PAs by fragmenting and reducing them as well as compromising the ecological functionality of PAs. The EU urges Albania to listen to the scientific community and other stakeholders in the country.
2. Also, major donors in the field of environment see the process and plans with a strong impact on biodiversity and not transparent.
Based on the above, the Group has pointed that the process is illegal and the content of the process is wrong. Therefore, we asked the Ministry not to rush the process of reviewing Protected Areas.

Likewise, we provided the Ministry with our views as follows:
1. to draft in advance the Specific Plan of PAs in accordance with the law on Protected Areas. This plan should be drafted in cooperation with civil society. The plan should also indicate the need to change, remove and add new protected areas.
2. to reconduct the study for the review of the surface of the protected areas. For each PA there should be a specific group of experts to contribute with data and comments on the surface, habitats, species and internal zoning of each the protected area.
3. to not reduce any surface of any protected area before the completion of the Plan and the re-implementation of the process of reviewing the surface of the protected areas.

We thank Minister Kumbaro for the opportunity of this meeting which was considered by her as only a first step of cooperation with this part of civil society and scientific institutions. We also greatly appreciate her desire for other thematic meetings. But our visit and our requests for more than two years are related to the inviolability of protected areas, especially the coastal wetland protected areas.

Unfortunately, Minister Kumbaro did not show the readiness to start reviewing the decision of the National Territorial Council of December 2020 as the decision that reduces, fragments the protected areas and leads to degradation of biological diversity.

Fortunately, the Ministry of Tourism and Environment could still delegitimize the failure to justify the wrong decision of KKT. We told the Ministry today what is the path we expect to be followed by this public institution. It’s just enough to support our thoughts and our above requests!
If this willingness does not exist, then NGOs and scientific and academic institutions will pursue their mission in defense of the public good through an active campaign for the protection of protected areas and the use of all forms of administrative and legal grievances.