Illegal Infrastructure Development on The Albanian Coast (IUCN)

Buna River Velipojë Protected Landscape (BRVPL) comprises one of the most important coastal wetlands areas of Albania. The landscape covers 23.027ha located between Lake Shkodra (Skadar) and the Adriatic Sea in north-west Albania. It was designated as a protected landscape in 2005 (IUCN category V) and has been further recognized as a wetland of international importance by designation under the Ramsar Convention. Being part of the European Green Belt, the landscape is also an Important Bird and Plant Area. Situated around the delta of the Buna River, the protected landscape supports a great variety of wetland communities.

For this case, we will focus on unsustainable tourism activities that are most obvious in the large tourism infrastructure development in the coastal area, which encompasses part of the core zone of BRVPL. This has had a number of adverse impacts including: loss, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats, particularly coastal and wetlands habitats; degradation of the landscape through the construction of new tourism installations and infrastructure; pollution of marine and freshwaters due to increased discharge of polluted and untreated wastewaters; and disturbance of wilderness areas.

This applies in particular to the Velipojë forest and wetland complex within the core parts of the protected area and the sand dune features that are suffering direct degradation from high levels of use by beach tourists.

Existing management frameworks such as: Management Plan for BRVPL (2016-2025), Integrated Resource Management Plan for the Buna/Bojana Area restrict the unsustainable tourism infrastructure development in the coastal zone but inefficient control and inadequate mechanisms for the sanctioning of illegal development represent one of the major challenges. Therefore, the utilization of the eLENS portal can quantify the aforementioned changes and provide a powerful tool for stakeholders to take action to enforce environmental protection. The monitoring will have the potential to serve as both direct evidence for authorities, as a tool to optimise the authorities control measures, and a powerful visual aid for various organisations to create awareness and report on the issues.

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