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Climate change and encroachment on protected areas reduce the number of waterfowl in Albania

2024-01-21 21:34:50, Sociale CNA

Climate change and encroachment on protected areas reduce the number of

Global climate changes and the violation of protected areas in Albania are reducing the number of waterfowl in recent years, especially in the country's wetlands. This is also proven this year by the monitoring during the bird census that was carried out by the administration of Protected Areas and environmental organizations. In the meantime, the Albanian government will send to the parliament in mid-February new changes to the law on Protected Areas, which are seen with considerable concern by environmental activists for the consequences on natural resources.

Also this year, Albania is included in the international waterfowl census with the commitment of the National Agencies of Protected Areas and environmental organizations.

The process has developed mainly in the country's wetlands, says Erald Xeka of the Ornithological Association of Albania (AOS).

"We counted almost 30 wetlands throughout Albania, taking the entire coast that coincides with the bird migration route, but also lakes such as Prespa and Ohri, in the continental interior. Beyond the scientific data we receive about waterfowl populations in Albania, what is important in carrying out the counting is also the awareness of people about the preservation of these habitats", he says.

Mr. Xeka further says that climate changes with global warming are bringing a decrease in the number of waterfowl in this season.

"In recent years, the winters have been very mild, which means that fewer birds have descended from the northern areas of Europe, where it is colder and the conditions become more unsuitable, towards the wetlands of our country. Every year we have milder winters that do not force the wintering waterfowl to come down in large flocks. I remember the years 2010-2012, which were spectacular years, very cold, and we also had an influx of geese, which we have not observed for years."

Even the professor of natural sciences, Spase Shumka, who has been monitoring the area in the Ohrid and Prespa lakes for years, says that a downward trend in the number of wintering waterfowl is observed.

"We have been monitoring birds for about 27 years in Lakes Ohrid and Prespa and this is done at the same time in all three countries, we have a coordination between Albania, Greece and North Macedonia. We can say that we have had fluctuations in the number of birds, but the trend comes and goes towards the reduction of wintering birds. We have had cases where we counted, for example, around 25,000 - 30,000 individuals in Prespa, last year we reached 10,000 individuals, while this year this number is smaller." he says.

Both Mr. Xeka and Mr. Spase talk about the effects created in Albania for the reduction of the number of waterfowl and the damage to wetlands and natural habitats, especially from construction.

Mr. Xeka says that "we have habitats that have been urbanized. I can mention Kunen, which used to be a very large lagoon, now from year to year it shrinks and has the pressure of constructions for tourism. Similarly, there are others such as the airport in Nartë, a construction within a protected area that will also affect the future".

While Mr. Shumka says that climate change practically demands that we develop sustainability but instead of doing this we help climate change.

"Specifically, the many constructions that can be done along the shores of the lakes, the large projects that affect the habitats through sedimentation and pollution, the development of tourism, there are other factors that have to do with overfishing, that is, with the use of resources that serve as a base for fish, so man has an effect. But hunting is also a factor. It is easy to see in recent years that birds have become friendlier to man due to the lack of hunting."

In the area of ??Narta, the construction of Vlora Airport is occupying an area of ??about 300 hectares, which, according to ornithologists, has damaged the habitats, and in the same way, in the area of ??Seman, the photovoltaic parks are harming bird populations.

Last year, the fire damage to several hundred hectares of pines in the area of ??Pishë Poros, in Fier brought catastrophic damage to the bird fauna and this natural protective belt itself.

Despite the appeal of environmental experts for the protection of natural areas and bird habitats, the parliament is expected to reconsider the law on Protected Areas by making changes that pave the way for the management of a part of these areas by municipalities and facilitating development projects.

The government is expected to send the law to parliament for a vote in mid-February, while environmental organizations continue to strongly oppose these changes./ VOA

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