The 5 meetings entitled "ACAP meets Mediterranean Model Forest", a moment of confrontation and exchange of good practices between the Network of Model Forests, in particular the Montagne Fiorentine Model Forest and the Management Committees of the Protected Areas of Southern Albania, ended last 4th May. The project is financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and has CELIM- Centro Laici Italiani per le Missioni as lead organisation.
The main objective of the project is the protection of natural heritage, the promotion of participatory governance of protected areas and the sustainable socio-economic development of the identified target areas of Vlore, Gjrokaster and Berat. During the webinars, the various Albanian stakeholders reported on the current issues related to land management in particular; deforestation, fires risk, the need to develop sustainable tourism, the protection of local flora and fauna and waste management.
The experience of the Model Forest as a tool for territorial governance was welcomed as a possible resource for the sustainable development of this territory. Throughout the five meetings, the account of the experiences of the Montagne Fiorentine’s Thematic Commissions offered ideas on the activities carried out over the years to overcome these difficulties; environmental education activities for children and adults, support for local businesses through network projects, and the promotion of a sustainable tourism of the territory.
The last meeting focused on how to create a Model Forest and the benefits it brings. Speakers included:
- Richard Verbisky, Head of the Secretariat of the International Model Forest Network, who shared the experience of the Network, which has led to the establishment of 60 Model Forests in 37 countries worldwide;
- Hajri Haska from the University of Agriculture in Tirana, who presented the past experiences and the attempts already implemented to create experiences of Model Forests in other Balkan countries and the next steps to establish a Model Forest association also in the Albanian territory;
- Ana Fornažar, President of the Model Forest of Istria, who presented the challenges and successes of the Association officially established in 2013 and now counting 30 partners;
- Kliti Starja, Director of the Forestry Department of the Albanian National Environmental Agency, explained the tasks of the Agency, which was established less than a year ago, and expressed interest in following a similar process on his own territory;
- Toni Ventre, from the Secretariat of the Mediterranean Model Forest Network that explained the steps for joining the Network.
The meetings were very successful and participated, we would like to thank all those who joined this series of very interesting meetings, which we hope were a seed for future Albanian membership in the Model Forest Network.