Nature protection and biodiversity - Why care? (Albania)

SOER 2010 Common environmental theme (Deprecated)
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SOER Common environmental theme from Albania
Published: 30 Nov 2010 Modified: 11 May 2020

Albania is distinguished by its rich biological and landscape diversity in two main bio-geographical regions: the Mediterranean and the Alpine regions. This can be attributed to the country's geographic position as well as its geological, hydrological, climatic, soil and relief characteristics. The mountainous terrain combined with steep cliffs creates ideal conditions for maintaining and protecting a large number of ancient species, some of which are endemic or sub-endemic. The high diversity of ecosystems and habitats – marine and coastal ecosystems, wetlands, river deltas, sand dunes, lakes, rivers, Mediterranean shrubs, broadleaf, conifers and mixed forests, alpine and sub-alpine pastures and meadows, and high mountain ecosystems – provides rich habitats for a variety of plants and animals. There are around 3 200 species of vascular plants and 756 vertebrate species. Of the vascular plants, 27 are endemic and 160 sub-endemic. Approximately 30 % of all European flora occur in Albania. The high Albanian forests maintain communities of large mammals such as wolf, bear, lynx, and wild goat, and also characteristic bird communities.

Coastal lagoons and large lakes inside the country are important areas especially for wintering migratory birds. About 70 waterfowl and water bird species with a total population of 180 000 individuals are seen during the winter in Albania each year, and the country is also an important crossroad for the migration of birds, bats, and insects.

Some 91 globally threatened species are found in Albania. These include the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), and the Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) for which Albania is a country of particularly critical importance.

Although only a small number of species have become extinct in Albania during the past century, the rate of loss of the country’s biodiversity during the past 50-60 years is believed to be high and increasing. Moreover, insufficient knowledge and studies on a wide range of flora and fauna limit an accurate historical evaluation of the biodiversity status of the country. Two plant species and four mammal species have become extinct, and 17 bird species no longer nest in the country's territory. Over the past 25 years, approximately 122 species of vertebrates –27 mammals, 89 birds, and 6 fish – and four species of plants are estimated to have lost more than 50 % of their populations. The number of rare and endangered plant and animal species of high and expected to increase if appropriate conservation measures are not taken.

Recent achievements in nature and biodiversity protection

The implementation of key strategic documents in the field of nature and biodiversity protection, namely the Intersectoral Environmental Strategy of November 2007 and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action of 2000, as well as the legal framework in this field, have contributed to the following achievements:

  • the extension of the representative network of protected areas, doubling it between 2005 and 2009 from 5.8 % to 12.57 % of the total land area of the country;
  • the Red List of fauna and flora species is being completed and updated and an act has been formulated to give a legal basis for the protection of listed species;
  • the area covered by protected areas is 365 000 hecatres;
  • single species action plans have been elaborated;
  • preparation of management plans for protected areas, especially for National Parks, and their implementation have contributed to improving the conservation status of threatened species and habitats;
  • the elaboration of a new law on wild fauna protection and the amendment of the law on protected areas has provided an improved legal basis for the protection of species and habitats.


The network of Protected Areas in Albania

In situ nature preservation in Albania started some 50 years ago, but it was more strongly developed after 1990. There are currently about 802 protected areas, including 750 Nature Monuments, in Albania, covering around 12.57 % of the total land area of the country. The first marine protected area is to be designated shortly.

The administration and management of protected areas is based on Law No. 8906 On Protected Areas, dated 6 June 2002. The object of this law is the declaration, preservation, administration, management and use of protected areas and their natural and biological resources; and the facilitation of conditions for the development of environmental tourism, for the information and education of the general public and for direct or indirect economic profits, by the local population and the public and private sector.

This law regulates the protection of six categories of protected areas, applied in the territory of the Republic of Albania. The categorisation of areas, the status, and level of protection for each area is based on the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The law pays special attention to forests, water and other natural resources within protected areas that are excluded from classification as forests for utilisation.


Protected Area category

No. PAs



% country territory


Cat I. Strict nature reserve  


4 800



Cat. II. National Park


176 517



Cat. III. Nature monument


3 490



Kategoria IV. Managed Nature reserve  


62 530



Kategoria V. Protected landscape


95 864.4



Kategoria VI. Managed resources PA/PA of multiple use 


18 200





361 401.4



As shown by the table above, the highest number of protected areas, 22, are the Managed Nature Reserves (MNR). The biggest area covered by protected areas is in the National Parks (NP) category. The developments in this field have been done taking into account the establishment of the national protected area network in the framework of the Pan European Ecological Network, and the setting-up and creation of a framework for NATURA 2000 implementation in the coming years as a part of the implementation of EU Directives. Work has already started on alignment of national legislation with the Directives, namely with the Habitats Directive by the amendment of the law on protected areas in 2008 and with the Birds Directive by the law on wild fauna protection, also in 2008.


Map of Protected Areas of Albania


Map of Protected Areas of Albania

Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest

The Emerald Network in Albania has been identified and completed during the implementation of three projects: the first pilot project in 2002, the second project in 2005-2006 and the third in 2007-2008. In the course of these projects, 25 potential sites have been selected and studied and distribution maps for 12 animal species and eight habitat species have been produced.


Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest


Bio-geographical regions

There are two main bio-geographical regions in Albania: the Mediterranean region and the Alpine region.




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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

Filed under: SOER2010, biodiversity
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