Dubious and Destructive Investment Threatens Divjaka National Park

In a letter sent Minister of Environment Lefter Koka, 11 environmental organizations have expressed their opposition against the construction of the tourist resort “Divjaka Albania” inside the Karavasta National Park in Divjaka. The resort is proposed by the Mabetex Group, headed by businessman Behgjet Pacolli.

In their letter, the organizations lists several legal violations of the plan.

  • The legal term for public hearings as explicated in Law no. 91/2013 “For the strategic environmental evaluation, as well VKM 219, dated March 11, 2015 “For the determination of the regulations and procedures for the consultation of interest groups and the public, as well as public hearings during the strategic environmental evaluation,” was not respected.
  • The National Park Karavasta in Divjaka is a category II protected zone. According to art. 6(2) of the Law for protected zones, in a national park it is prohibited to:

Exploit the land with intensive technology, with means and ways that cause radical changes in the biodiversity, in the structure and function of ecosystems, or that irreversibly damage the surface of the land;

The construction of roads, highways, railroads, urban zones, high tension tines, and extensive oil and gas systems.

  • The “Divjaka Albania” plan did not include the recommendations of the Management Plan of the park, drafted with the support of JICA and approved in 2016 by the Ministry of Environment.
  • The plan violates several International Conventions and EU standards for the protection of nature, such as:
    • The Bern Convention for the Emerals Network: Divjaka was declared Emerald Zone in 2008;
    • The Ramsar Convention for Wetlands of International Importance: Divjaka is the first Ramsar zone in Albania declared in 1996;
    • The Nature 2000 Network for Specially Protected Zones: All birds and their habitats included in this convention have to be protected from all damage.
  • The expected influence on the park are more than is envisioned in the strategic environmental evaluation presented with the plan.

Except the violations of the law, the organizations declare that the plan will destroy the natural wealth and biological diversity of the area. It will significantly lower the number of nesting and wintering birds in the ecosystem.

Allowing the construction of a complex such as this, they argue, will open the door to the destruction of other national parks, because for every investor in the tourism industry, the protected zone are always the most attractive.