Students call for conservation of biodiversity in Karaburun

22 May 2014

imageStudents in Orikum,Vlore

Vlore, 22 May 2014. Students of Orikum High School in Vlora called on communities to conserve biodiversity. Celebrating the International Day of Biodiversity, they organized a number of sports activities such as volleyball, kayak, running and painting. This event helped send a message to their peers but also to the public in the surrounding area: Everybody should work towards preserving marine and coastal resources for the benefit of sustainable tourism and people living in the area.

Orikumi is part of the initiative “Green Wave”- a volunteer environmental action for biodiversity conservation. Students of Orikum watered the Flag Pine tree which is a natural monument of the area -thus joining their peers around the globe when they watered their tree, thereby creating a figurative “green-wave”.

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Ms. Olijana Ifti, appealed to the students to be at the forefront of the efforts to preserve the environment and especially the area which they live in- a national treasury.

The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Albania Ms.Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun, present at the event, highlighted:”I would encourage you to use this opportunity to promote Orikumi and its surrounding marine ecosystem. I encourage you also to work with your local authorities and partners to make sure that Orikumi’s values can be protected from social, commercial and urban development pressures. Too much of Albania’s coastline has already suffered from such pressure. I am confident that with the leadership we have here, Orikumi and its marine ecosystems will serve as a model which balances economic development and benefits with social and environmental benefits”.

The Mayor of Orikum, Mr. Gezim Çapoj, expressed the commitment of the municipality to contribute to the conservation and management of the area, particularly Marine Protected Area of Karaburun - Sazani.  
Mayor Capoj highlighted present threats to the biodiversity such as illegal fishing, hunting, and fires. He praised UNDP’s assistance in helping strengthen law enforcement mechanisms in the area such as surveillance through site patrolling. He also appreciated public awareness and advocacy campaigns related to conservation of biodiversity and promotion of higher access into the area (the cultural and historical attractions).

The 22nd of May is the International Day for Biodiversity, and this year the theme is Island Biodiversity. Islands house a disproportionate amount of the world’s biodiversity: although less than 5% of the world’s land area, they are home to over 20% of the planet’s terrestrial biodiversity, and in the last 500 years 80% of vertebrate extinctions have been on islands. Invasive species have been implicated in over half of these extinctions.

In Albania, UNDP and the Global Environment Facility support the Government’s plans to double marine protected areas, and improve their overall management. UNDP focuses its efforts to improve management and conservation of marine ecosystems in the piloted area of Karaburun – Sazani, which is home to several species and habitats of national and global importance. The diversity of habitats, as well as the position of the coast, results in a high marine biodiversity. The marine waters host about 64 species of international concern. Among them are many globally threatened fish species, such as sturgeons, sea lamprey, great white shark, blue shark, sharpnose sevengill shark, porbeagle, basking shark, thornback skate and giant devilray. The Mediterranean seal, a critically endangered species, is also a very rare occasional visitor to the area. The coastal landscape is highly heterogeneous, including lagoons, wetlands, sand dunes and river deltas.

The event was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Municipality of Orikum in partnership with UNDP. Interventions in the area are implemented in the framework of “Improving Coverage and Effectiveness Management of Marine and Coastal Protected Areas” project. To find out more about this project, visit this link: http://www.al.undp.org/content/albania/en/home/operations/projects/environment_and_energy/protecting-albania-s-marine-and-coastal-biodiversity.html