The construction of a new hydropower plant is threatening the Lure-Mali i Dejes National Park in Albania.
Located in northeastern Albania it comprises over 202 square km and encompasses the former Zall-Gjocaj National Park and Deje Mountain. It was established as a National Park in 1966 to give protection to the various flora and fauna within.
It is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as a Category II and is home to brown bears, lynx, wolfs, pine martens, roe deer, golden eagles and beech, fir, pine, ash and maple trees. With its borders, it also contains twelve glacial lakes that were formed during the ice age.
In 2018, the government granted permission for the HEC Borie-Lure 1 hydropower plant to be built northeast of the park, in the village of Burie. The catchment area of the plant will include two of its 12 famous lakes.
Plans have been in the works for the plant for over five years but just recently, one of the construction companies involved has started efforts to collect the signatures of residents so work can commence.
While the plant, reservoirs and dams are expected to be built outside of the protected areas, the project envisions collections of water from areas within the Park.
The HEC Borie-Lura is one of over 100 hydropower plants that the Rama administration has given permission for. Last year Rama said that small power plants are useless as they harm nature more than they provide economic benefits. Despite this, he seems to be doing little to stop the construction of power plants in, or nearby, protected areas.
There are currently at least 60 hydropower plants planned or being built in 12 protected areas of the country. The government has been criticised by the European Commission for this approach.