Enabling environment for joint bottom up protection and sustainable development planning

for Bojana river basin

Bojana river basin comprises of its tributaries, delta and coastal areas as well as the adjacent part of the Adriatic coast and a narrow strip of its shoreline. The Bojana basin complex is protected through several national and international nature protection mechanisms. Šasko lake (transboundary with Velipoje reserve in Albania) and the Ulcinj salina are identified as Important Bird Areas (IBA), the Ulcinj salina recently designated as protected under Nature Park category and Ada Bojana island, the Ulcinj Saline and Šasko Lake listed as EMERALD sites. On the Albanian side, Shkodra lake and Buna river as a part of the Bojana basin are designated as a Ramsar site and Velipoje as a Nature reserve.

However, the existing protected areas system in Bojana river basin and associated Key biodiversity area (KBA) is not representative, i.e. it was not established in a way to include all valuable ecosystems, and timely achievement of goals established with designation of new protected areas is lacking. The area is not considered as an interlinked ecosystem, leaving place for deprivation of its ecosystem essential dynamics, key biological attributes, resilience capacity and ecosystem services. Data availability and presentation is also weak, indicated by previous studies (Schneider-Jacoby et al., 2006). Combined with insufficient human resources, these deficiencies lead to public administration not responding properly to existing pressures. As a consequence, and despite its high natural values, the Bojana basin is significantly threatened by unsustainable, unplanned and illegal activities, solid and water waste pollution, poor and declining agriculture, lack of controlled and well planned investment in infrastructure and growth in tourism, as well as a lack of integrated management and shared values for joint planning.

In EnvPro we believe that in order to create a “fully functioning cooperation” necessary for underpinning successful protected areas and sustainable development planning and management, much time and effort is needed to raise support and awareness of those living closest to the resources, to a level likely to create demand and capacities for a suitable conservation concept.

To tackle these issues, from June 2020 EnvPro is conducting a one-year small project named Enabling environment for joint bottom up protection and sustainable development planning for Bojana river basin, funded by Critical ecosystem partnership fund (CEPF). The project is focused on the Montenegrin side of the basin, although it is working towards establishing a transboundary cooperation model. The main project partner is Center for econics and ecosystem management from University Eberswalde, who will apply MARISCO methodology - Adaptive MAnagement of vulnerability and RISk at COnservation sites, developed in the Center. With this project, EnvPro aims to raise knowledge and awareness of the Bojana ecosystem, resulting in enhancement of strategically planned protection and sustainable use of environmental resources in Bojana basin.