World Wetlands Day 2006 in Albania

07/02/2006

WWD ceremonies for the designation of Lake Shkodra

Albania joined the Ramsar Convention in 1995 and has taken the opportunity of World Wetlands Day 2006 to designate its third Ramsar Site with a two-day ceremony in the town of Shkoder. This was the culmination of the lake Shkodra part of the project on "Transboundary cooperation through management of shared natural resources", managed by the offices in Shkoder (Albania) and Podgorica (Montenegro, in Serbia and Montenegro) of the Regional Environment Center (REC) with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Djana Bejko, of the REC office in Shkoder, organized a fair of local products from Albanian and Montenegrin village communities along Shkodra lake, including woven textiles, honey, spirits and others. On 1 February 2006, over 150 participants from Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria and further afar walked up to the impressive Rozafa castle overlooking the rapidly spreading town of Shkoder, the outflow of lake Shkodra and the junction of the river Drin, flowing from the mountainous hinterland and now artificially connected with the Buna river, the outflow of lake Shkodra to the Adriatic. The event continued in Shkoder's "Millennium Cinema" where Environment Minister Prof. Lufter Xhuveli was pleased to formally designate the Albanian part of lake Shkodra and the wetlands along the Buna river, including the Viluni lagoon near Velipoja at the Adriatic, for inclusion to the Ramsar List (49,562 hectares), as he had already promised during the international conference on lake Shkodra in October 2005. On this occasion, he and the Mayor of Shkoder received the Ramsar Site Diploma from the Ramsar Secretariat. The Ramsar representative also thanked Vice Minister Taulant Bino and Nature Conservation Director Zamir Dedej, as well as all those involved locally and nationally, for their continued efforts for the conservation and sustainable use of Albanian's wetlands. The ceremony then continued with an art exhibition on the theme of lake Shkodra, the showing of a film, and a vibrant concert by the Tirana youth string orchestra, seriously heating up the atmosphere and closing the very successful and impressive event.

Now, the Ramsar Secretariat is eagerly awaiting the formal announcement of both Governments wishing to see the adjacent Ramsar Sites Skadarsko Jezero (N° 784 in Serbia and Montenegro) and Lake Shkodra and River Buna (N° 1598 in Albania) formally recognized as a transboundary site, as well as the announcement of the extension of the Ramsar Site in Montenegro (Serbia and Montenegro) to include the downstream wetlands along Bojana/Buna river, thus matching up with the Albanian side.

-- report and photos, Tobias Salathé, Ramsar



entrance to the Millennium Cinema in Shkoder



the youth string orchestra from Tirana closing the WWD event


overlooking Shkodra lake outflow into Buna river from Rozafa castle


Drin river floodplain upstream of its confluence with Buna river

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