Buna River…the Protected Landscape

Buna delta (Albania). ©MedWet/C.Amico 

Buna River…the Protected Landscape

October 17, 2022

The Buna River Velipoje Protected Landscape (Albania) was designated as a protected area in 2005, and is also listed under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance.  It is home to threatened endemic bird and plant species and is an important migration corridor between the Adriatic Sea and inland areas. The Buna Delta spans over 20,000 hectares and hosts around 36,000 residents, whose livelihoods mainly depend on agriculture, livestock, fishing and tourism.

An important but threatened Landscape

There is an increasing awareness among the community of the need to protect and preserve the natural wealth of the landscape. However, local practices and priorities continue to threaten the natural values. Most of the damage to the protected landscape in Buna comes from unsustainable tourism, agriculture and day-to-day activities.

Pollution in Buna River. ©MedWet/C.Amico

Solutions for a healthy Landscape

After five years of action in the Buna River Velipoje Protected Landscape, the partners of the Living Buna project have shared successful solutions for improved protected area conservation through ‘PANORAMA – Solutions for a Healthy Planet’.  These solutions include actions undertaken by all sectors in the Buna community.

A community event in Buna. ©Arber Xhaferaj

Part of the solution to these problems was to better protect the area, but there was also a need to bring back some of what has been lost – through restoration. Through the Living Buna small grant program, two of the grantees included a focus on restoration in the protected area – together over 4000 seedlings of five important canopy and shrub species were planted to commence revegetation of over two hectares of degraded land. This will create a framework for further enrichment of habitats.

Sokol Guri, from the Forests and Pastures Federation, showing their planting of indigenous species as part of the restoration activity in Velipoje, in the protected landscape, funded by the Buna small grant program. Photo by: Liz Drury 2022

Public support for wetland restoration in Buna

Restoration activities by the Buna community have not just involved restoring the vegetation, but also other important natural features in the landscape. Local volunteer and eco-tourism entrepreneur, Samela Vata, led a project of her own with other young people to restore important dune habitat. The erosion of the dunes was increasing, so Samela and the volunteers installed sediment fences made from natural materials to slow down the loss of structure and allow the habitat to restore itself.

 ©Vlatka D. Mazal

We are a group of volunteers and youth. We realized that the place and the sea offer more than just a place to swim. We noticed that the erosion was happening, and I realised something needed to be done.
Samela Vata

Fostering local community support for Buna restoration is essential for long-term sustainable management and use of the Landscape.

Building capacity for a sustainable future for Buna

Effective wetland preservation and restoration are often constrained by the finite capacity of the institutions managing them. Increasing the capacity of local communities to take action for wetlands in Buna will directly translate into improving the solving of the problems and help in implementing conservation and restoration measures efficiently and effectively.

To further support the knowledge and expertise involved in future restoration activities in Buna, a series of trainings and workshops were held in the Shkoder and Velipoje in October 2022. The sessions were held for protected area managers and staff, community members and the civil sector, aiming to improve their knowledge on protecting and restoring the landscape and developing effective local conservation project proposals in the future. The sessions included the diverse indigenous flora, fauna and habitats of Buna, and insight into how to restore its natural values.

Read the full PANORAMA Solution for community contribution here

Comments are closed.