In a significant step towards promoting biodiversity conservation and sustainable practices in protected areas, a follow-up grant agreement was signed yesterday between PONT and World Vision Albania (WVA). This follow-up grant spanning the next three years will deliver a new initiative of community-led efforts to conserve biodiversity and restore habitats in the stunning landscapes of Albania’s Korab-Koritnik Nature Park and Shebenik National Park.
Entitled “Community response/ownership development for biodiversity preservation in Korab -Koritnik Nature Park and Shebenik National Park” this grant-funded project is designed to address the imperative need for community engagement in the protection and renewal of fragile ecosystems and rich biodiversity in these protected areas. It is a collaborative effort built in close partnership with community-based organisations in these municipalities: Agritra-Vizion in Dibra and Pertej te Sotmes – SPT in Librazhd.
Majlinda Hoxha, a representative of the WVA in Dibër for more than 15 years, emphasised the central role of local communities in the conservation and sustainable management of both the Korab-Koritnik Nature Park and the Shebenik National Park. This emphasis ensures the continued existence of these pristine natural habitats and the delicate ecological balance they maintain.
The main strength of this innovative initiative revolves around the sustainable management of Medicinal Aromatic Plant Resources (MAP) within the two parks. These invaluable resources serve as a dual purpose – as powerful economic assets and a valuable source for eco-tourism-related activities. The project aims to bolster local livelihoods while promoting biodiversity conservation by promoting responsible management of these resources.
Bukurie Begu, a distinguished leader within Agritra-Vizion, highlighted one of the project’s most robust pillars: women empowerment in Dibër. Women in this region have long been the custodians of traditional wisdom regarding the sustainable use of the park’s precious natural resources. Their knowledge and expertise are invaluable assets, and the project aims to strengthen their role in biodiversity conservation. Bukurie emphasised that women are invaluable advocates for nature conservation, acting not only as stewards of future generations but also as primary users of natural resources to provide everyday food and support for their families.
During a visit to Peshkopi yesterday, the Director of PONT, Mirjam de Koning, and the Executive Director of World Vision Albania, Eljona Elmazi had some important meetings with local government representatives such as Mr. Rahim Spahiu – Mayor of Dibër Municipality and Alma Selami – Head of Dibra District Council, as well as representatives from the beneficiary communities in the district.
In essence, this initiative not only underscores the crucial role of community engagement but also acknowledges the invaluable contributions of women to the sustainable management of biodiversity resources. By harmonising environmental conservation with economic empowerment and gender equality, this follow-up grant from PONT is positioned to promote Albania’s protected areas, offering noteworthy best practices deserving of recognition and celebration.