Environmentalists Urge Cancelation of Vlora Airport Project

Environmentalists Urge Cancelation of Vlora Airport Project

TIRANA, February 1

Irreversible damage to the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape area and the risk of tragic accidents are among the main warnings listed in an open letter that 36 Albanian and international organizations issued for the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and related ministries and authorities. The groups of environmentalists express concern about the plans for the construction of an international airport within the territory of the protected area “Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape” (Category V according to IUCN).

“Such an investment would bring about uncontrolled and unsustainable development models that would irreversibly damage the natural values and resources of the area,” the letter highlights.
Besides being a protected landscape Vjosa-Narta is part of almost all international ecological networks that a natural site in Albania could be a part of. It is recognized as ‘Important Bird Area’ and ‘Key Biodiversity Area’. According to the data mentioned in the letter, more than 200 wild bird species have been recorded in the area.

“Furthermore, the construction of the airport in the planned location poses heightened risks for the safety of airplanes and people. This area lies in one of the most important sections of the Adriatic Flyway, in which, hundreds of thousands of birds forage and take shelter during the migration seasons. Some of these species, like the pelicans, herons, gulls, flamingos, etc., that are abundantly present throughout the year are of such dimensions that a potential collision with airplanes could bring tragic consequences. Cases of airplane malfunctions or even crashes caused by the collision with wild birds are well documented. This fact, strongly dictates that Vjosa-Narta is an inadequate location for this large public investment,” the letter emphasizes.

Moreover, the coalition of environmental organizations declares that the construction of such infrastructure within the protected area goes against the Albanian and international legislation, violating, in general, the environmental legal framework of the country and, specifically, the law of Protected Areas and a number of conventions which Albania, as a sovereign country, with integrity and aspiration towards the European Union, has ratified. This issue was mentioned even in the Progress Report 2020 for Albania (Page 106, 2nd section) by European Commission.
Hence, the coalition calls on Albanian authorities to cancel the construction of the airport within the protected area and instead focus on the development of sustainable tourism, eco-tourism, and agro-tourism in the area.

Read the letter in English or Albanian.


Photo Credit: Arian Mavriqi

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