Albania criticized for plans to build airport in protected zone full of birds

Flamingos, photo: Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash
Flamingos, photo: Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Environmental groups have urged Albania’s government to drop plans to build an airport inside a protected area on the Adriatic sea, whose wetlands are a paradise for endangered birds.

Albania wants to build a second international airport near Vlora, a popular beach destination for tourists.

The Infrastructure Ministry confirmed Wednesday that it has so far received two offers for the 86 million euro ($103 million) construction project and will make its choice public in March. 

But in an open letter to Prime Minister Edi Rama this week, national and international environmental organizations warned the project would “irreversibly damage the ecosystem” of the Vjose-Narte Protected Landscape in which the airport would be built.

From Dalmatian pelicans to pink flamingos, the area is home to more than 200 species of birds, 33 of which are on a red list of threatened species, according to experts.

The environmental groups warned that as a major migratory site, the location could also pose “heightened risks for the safety of airplanes and people.”

The signatories, including Germany’s EuroNatur, BirdLife Europe and the World Wildlife Fund, called on Albania to drop the plan and instead focus on developing eco-tourism in the area.

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