Karst ecosystems in Albania

Karst ecosystems of Albania, their values and risks, and problems of management for a sustainable development

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Background

About 25% of Albania is interested by karst landscapes in both carbonates and evaporite rocks, with a variety of surface and subsurface landforms worth to be exploited. Despite their high value in terms of natural heritage, in the past years these areas suffered from degradation and pollution problems, that were further exacerbated by the difficult social and economical situation of the Balkans in the 1990’s.

Purpose

Point out the relevance of the natural karst heritage of Albania, and the need to carry out actions of safeguard, in order to ensure protection of the karst and of the natural resources therein contained. Identify those sites worth to be object of priority actions, aimed at a sustainable management of the environment.

Methods

Comparison between studies carried out in karst areas of southern Italy and Albania, in order to define common evaluation criteria for the relevance of the natural heritage. Geological-morphological surveys, integrated by caving explorations, in sample areas.

Results

Acquisition of documentation and data on many karst areas of Albania, and the environmental problems they are suffering. Contribute to the implementation of the national register of caves and karst areas in Albania.

Products

Karst geomorphology maps in sample areas of the Albania territory. Publications in international journals or congress proceedings.

Conclusions

In fragile territories such as the Albania karst there is the urgent need to deepen the studies on the natural heritage, in order to collect the necessary material for its sustainable development. At the same time, actions of awareness and knowledge of the problems in karst areas should be pursued, addressed toward the local populations and schools.