Protecting Albania's Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

What is the project about

Karaburuni marine and coastal protected area
Karaburuni marine and coastal protected area

More than one third of the Adriatic coast in Albania is being eroded - at a rate of one to two metres per year - accelerated by removing gravel and sand from beaches for construction industry, uncontrolled construction along the coast, deforestation of large coastal areas (even inside protected areas), and agricultural development. Increased migration to coastal areas has resulted in uncontrolled harvest of coastal and marine resources (‘Protected Areas gap assessment, marine biodiversity, and legislation, UNDP 2010’)

Overfishing along the entire marine stretch has led to the depletion of breeding grounds of Sparidae, Soleidae, Mullidae and more. Foreign offshore fishing has depleted stocks, especially of fish, mollusks and crustaceans (‘Marine Protected Area Report, UNDP 2009’)

Bivalves and crustaceans have been collected illegally. Divers have illegally extracted the bivalve mollusc in a way that damages entire coastal rocks. Marine vertebrates such as sea turtle (Caretta caretta), dolphins, sharks and otter (Lutra lutra) are trapped in fishing nets, and in most of the cases are killed instead of being released.

Uncontrolled hunting is another major form of disturbance to biodiversity, especially in the winter months when migratory birds are at risk

Pollution of marine and coastal waters is increasing, especially in lagoons. Most pollution comes from urban and industrial waste, sewage, and chemicals used in agriculture (‘Analysis of the proposed potential areas as Marine Protected Areas in Albania, UNDP 2009’)

The impact of climate change is seen in: rising sea levels, changing ecosystems in lagoons, increased frequency and intensity of floods, introduction of alien and invasive species from warmer regions, and a decrease in some marine and coastal populations of fish and invertebrates.

Potential threats include extraction of sand from the bottom of the sea, plans for drilling and possible oil exploitation along the coast, and invasive species.

UNDP and the Global Environment Facility support the Government’s plans to double marine protected areas, and improve their overall management. In close cooperation with national partners, this includes:          

●     Improving the legal and regulatory framework that supports setup and management of protected areas;

●     Preparing a strategic plan for marine and coastal protected areas;

●     Assisting protected area administrations with management and business plans of protected areas, including cost-effective management, conservation approaches, participation with conservationists and local communities;

●     Demonstrating management and business planning at the marine protected area of Karaburuni-Sazani;           

●     Identifying and marking buffer zones for existing coastal protected areas followed by appropriate management scenarios.

What have we accomplished so far

Fishermen south albania
Fishermen, South of Albania. (Credit UNDP Albania)


UNDP Project office in close cooperation with MEFWA and Local Authorities in Orikumi has continuously steered-up synergies and efforts from all stakeholders to accomplishment of one main objective: improved management and conservation of marine ecosystems in the piloted area of Sazan-Karaburuni, but countrywide as well.

Enforcement and control mechanisms (surveillance /patrolling) in the target area of Sazan-Karaburuni, are ensuring mitigation/prevention of all kind of damages and environment pressures. Nine rangers work together with local structures based on an operational plan for controlling illegal fishing and hunting, grazing, fires. 

Socio-economic assessment of Sazan-Karaburuni marine and coastal protected area is guiding development of ecotourism creating synergies with other initiatives in the marine area.

Recently developed Strategic Plan on Marine and Coastal Protected Areas will inform a coordinated decision making for an ecosystem-based spatial management ensuring sustainable development while conserving and managing natural biodiversity and resources

About 40 people from the environment administration and local partners participated are trained on tracking performance indicators for protected areas through the use of the internationally applied METT (Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool), further on the job training and support is being provided. The tool will establish the baseline for further monitoring of the situation in the protected areas marine included, contributing also to comply with European Union requirements.

Who finances it?

Year Donor  Amount
2010 GEF/UNDP/Government of Albania $ 74,701.00
2011 GEF/UNDP/Government of Albania $ 217,992.00
2012 GEF/UNDP/Government of Albania $ 217,992.00


Year  Total delivery 
2011  $ 71,520.76
2012   $ 200,221.31
Project Overview
Porject duration
January 2011 - April 2016
Geographic coverage
Nationwide, pilot area MPA Karaburun-Sazani
1, 7
Programme Officer
Elvita Kabashi
Project Manager
Violeta Zuna
Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Water Administration; Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports; Local Authorities, Municipality of Orikumi; Directorate of Forestry Service, Fishery associations; NGOs interested in the field of biodiversity and protected areas