The case is centred on several areas along the border to Albania, from Velika Plaža (beach), including its hinterland Štoj, and Ada Bojana (island that sits at the mouth of the Buna/Bojana River), through the newly announced protected area Ulcinj Salina (1500 ha wetland, former salt works), and further North Lake Skadar National Park.
Stretching about 12km, Velika Plaža is among the longest beaches in Europe. With its rising popularity has come an influx of construction projects and an increased pressure from human activities for both beach and hinterland. The area also features natural pressures in the form of erosion, which will be especially important to monitor for the island in the river mouth, Ada Bojana.
Ulcinj Salina was recently designated as a protected area and the process of installing the necessary management is now underway. The area was in use as a salt works until 2013 and infrastructure such as dikes channels created for the purpose had the positive benefit of helping to create a habitat for a very large amount of migratory birds. Since the collapse of the salt business, the area has fallen into disrepair along with its quality as a habitat, but with the recent designation, it will be the goal to restore and maintain the quality of the habitat.
Two-thirds of Lake Skadar is on the Montenegrin side of the border, with the remainder across the border in Albania. Varying seasonally between 37.000ha and 53.000ha, it is the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula and is famous for its diversity of both flora and fauna. The National Park established in 1983 (Ramsar site in 1996) protects an area of 40.000ha on the Montenegrin side. The area is under threat from illegal logging and encroaching urbanisation and construction projects.
In addition to the areas near the border and the case in Albania, our partners have shared their wish to monitor Nikšićko polje, which is the largest karst field in Montenegro. The field spans an area of about 4800 hectares and is located in the western part of the country. In this area, the focus will be monitoring of meadow fires and water level fluctuations to increase the understanding of the physical dynamics of the area and their effect on its function as a habitat for wildlife, as well as identify if any illegal activities are causing untoward disruptions.
Overall, the monitoring will provide up-to-date information on these key areas for relevant authorities and interested organisations. The information will serve to increase effectiveness of law enforcement by authorities by allowing quick and precise reactions to any incidents and by providing supporting evidence of violations. Furthermore, the monitoring will be able to provide data to investigate whether areas comply with national and international regulations relating to the healthy status of the different categories of areas. Lastly, it can provide compelling visual evidence for organisations to create awareness of potentially illegal or unregulated activities that can be of harm to the area.