BIODIVERSITY AND THE PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEM IN ALBANIA
Albania possesses a wide range of ecological systems including coastal zones, estuaries and lagoons, lakes and wetlands, grasslands, middle-low altitude coppice forests, high altitude forests, alpine vegetation and glacial areas. The country possesses about 3,250 species of vascular plants, 165 families and more than 900 genera. Medicinal plants (botanicals) and non-timber forest products have a long history of importance in the culture and traditional knowledge of Albania. Proper legislation and especially legal and regulatory framework enforcement for the regulation of this developing industry remains lacking. A Strategy of Biodiversity plan developed in 2000 calls for an increase in the Protected Areas system which currently covers some 6 % of Albania’s area to a total area of 435,600 ha, approximately 15 % of the country’s territory. Changes in the legal and policy framework as well as institutional structures is required to move forward and provide an environment for biodiversity conservation and a sustainable protected areas system. The various threats to biodiversity and constraints to improvement are outlined as well as recommendations for sustainable use, assessment and regulation.
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