A two-day training course related to Natura 2000 -Towards the EU Biodiversity Protection Standards in Albania- was held in Tirana (Albania) for 25 peoples representing the relevant national authorities (Ministry of Environment, Environmental and Forest Agency), scientists (University of Tirana, Botanical Garden), national NGOs, etc. The meeting introduced the Natura 2000 concept and built the capacity of national stakeholders.
The Institute of Nature conservation in Albania (INCA) in collaboration with WWF Mediterranean organised the training workshop for the issues related to Natura 2000 in Albania and experiences in the region and EU countries. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Zamir Dedej and facilitated during the two days by Alberto Arroyo Schnell, WWF Natura 2000 Coordinator, with the support of Andrea Stefan, Policy Officer of the WWF Mediterranean Programme. Mr. Antoine Avignon, from the EC Delegation in Albania, was present and welcomed the participants highlighting the relevance of the project for supporting Albania in their efforts towards the implementation of the EU biodiversity protection standards.
The first day started with the presentation of the objectives and expected results; in particular it was agreed that the conclusions from the workshop will be incorporated in the publication of the guidelines under preparation in the framework of this project. The opening was followed by the introduction of the general framework of biodiversity conservation in the EU, concluding with the role of the Nature Directives and in particular the EU Natura 2000 network of protected areas. The two international experts introduced the core elements of the EU Nature Directives, with a particular focus on the Natura 2000 site designation process. Two examples from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were presented. Several clarification questions and comments were raised in relation with the scientific character of the process, the financing possibilities and the concrete management obligations of Natura 2000 were raised. The afternoon session was characterised by a very active discussion among participants on the current situation and next steps for Albania.
The second day centred on agreeing on common conclusions and recommendations, which produced a strong interest and vivid discussion. Some basic agreements were reached on conclusions and recommendations of the training workshop. Furthermore, some issues relating to capacity, priorities, timelines, funding and key actors were discussed and agreed (included as part of the conclusions). The working session was followed by a presentation on communication of Natura 2000 by Bernadett Hajdú, which introduced some basic ideas on the issue, and also concluded with a suggestion on considering early communication actions in the Natura 2000 process.
A final address to participants reminded them that they will receive the draft guidelines with the conclusions and recommendations from the workshop incorporated, and they are welcomed to provide their input. The interest in the Natura 2000 process was certified by participants, who also agreed on the need to work together for the process to be successful. The meeting was considered to be a first relevant step in the long process to implement the EU biodiversity framework in Albania, in particular the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
Some social events were also organised for the international and INCA staff to appreciate the Albanian landscape and culinary delights.
Zamir Dedej, NGO INCA