Promoting, protecting, and conserving biodiversity in the Korab-Koritnik Nature Park, directly impacts and improves the livelihoods of local communities, as the park has unique natural and touristic values with great potential for the local economy.
In the period from June 2022 to June 2023, World Vision Albania, and Agritra Vizion, successfully implemented the project “Improving livelihoods through biodiversity conservation in the Korab-Koritnik Nature Park“. This was the first year of a collaboration between project implementing partners and PONT in Albania.
The main objective of the project was to raise awareness among local communities about biodiversity, ecosystems, and resources of the area, the importance of sustainable management and use of natural resources, as well as the sustainable management of the medicinal and aromatic plants value chains.
Through training and support, farmers have gained new knowledge about the good practices of medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation and management, and the challenges they may encounter during production.
- 40 farmers were trained in cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants,
- 38 female farmers received necessary materials for their work,
- 9 farmers were supported with 21,000 seedlings,
- 110 female farmers increased their awareness of the possibility of cultivating medicinal plants, and
- 162 young people raised awareness about the protection of the Korab-Koritnik Nature Park and biodiversity conservation.
They have become strong voices in their communities for biodiversity potentials conservation in Korab Koritnik Nature Park, Dibër.
“As a result of the training, not only have we increased awareness about nature conservation, but we have also gained new skills for cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants. Our plants are healthier and of good quality,” expressed Irma, one of the women farmers involved in cultivating medicinal plants in the village of Obok.
“The success of this project demonstrated how organized intervention and needs based support contribute to orient small communities, into areas for medicinal plant production and management, with tangible benefits for local farmers and the community as a whole,” said Erblini, the project manager.
“Based on my experience, Dibra has extraordinary potential for cultivating medicinal plants. This potential should be utilized for the benefit of the local economy while ensuring biodiversity conservation,” stated Besi, the owner of one of the largest companies involved in the collection and export of medicinal and aromatic plants.
In addition to increasing awareness in women, young people, farmers, and the community about biodiversity conservation and the protection of the Korab-Koritnik area; the project also empowered farmers and enhanced the capacities of local organisations and institutions on biodiversity protection and management.
“Through the training and support provided, our staff strengthened their skills in project management, coordination, and monitoring. We now have more knowledge and skills in planning and implementing similar projects in the future, with direct impact on biodiversity conservation and the improvement of people’s lives”, mentioned Bukuria, the project coordinator of the implementing partner organization Agritra Vizion.
Trainings and “Exchange of experiences” were also offered to local institutions such as the Dibër Protected Areas Administration and the tourism office in the Dibër municipality. This has fostered functional partnerships focused on biodiversity conservation and the protection of the Korab-Koritnik Nature Park.
As a result of the implemented interventions, local farmers have increased their awareness and become partners in environmental conservation. They have engaged in sustainable practices of cultivating medicinal and aromatic plants and have learned to gather them from nature without causing harm to the environment. At the same time, the implementing organizations’ staff have increased their capacities to continue working on the protection of the area and the development of other projects focused on biodiversity conservation and the environment. Specifically, six members of World Vision Albania’s staff in Dibër, three members of Agritra Vizion’s staff, and six representatives from local institutions have been trained, reporting increased capacities and knowledge in the management of the protected area Korab-Koritnik and the cultivation of medicinal plants.
The assessment of the potential for cultivating medicinal plants in the Dibër region, training in sustainable cultivation and gathering practices, which respect the sustainable use of natural resources and minimise negative impact on biodiversity, as well as the establishment of partnerships with medicinal plant collection companies, have brought new opportunities for local farmers.
The achieved results within a year are impressive and promising. They confirm that projects integrating all these aspects- biodiversity protection and sustainable management, economic growth, and the enhancement of local organisations’ capacities – can bring positive and sustainable changes to communities and the opportunities they live in.