Forestry Project Albania

Forests cover less than 40% of the land area of Albania. Some areas of other wooded land are included in the calculations of forest cover, half of which is classified as coppice and coppice with standards, the other half being high forest. Nearly fourfifths of the growing stock consists of broad-leaved species, predominantly species of deciduous and evergreen oak and of beech. Albania is one of the few European countries where there has been a decline in forest area in recent decades, due to clearance for agriculture, overgrazing and cutting for fuel-wood, in particular during the transition period (around 1990). Tree felling has exceeded net annual increment, resulting in a decrease in the growing stock; there has also been a decline in its quality as a result of illegal cutting. Most of the forest is available for wood supply; of the rest, the larger part is not available for economic reasons. More than four-fifths of the forest is classified as semi-natural, with the remainder divided between forest undisturbed by man and plantations. The Country has had forestation programmes, with tree planting mainly on difficult land, but at present they are reduced due to a lack of investment in this area. All forest is State-owned, but tenure regime is changing to include community and private forest categories. There are efforts to increase the area of protected forest in order to preserve the rich biodiversity and the landscape. Protected Areas account for more than 100 thousand hectares, and will be increasing due to the Hill and Mountainous Terrain and Genetic Conservation Programme. During the 1990s, and despite the fact that forest management was particularly affected by the sudden demise of the former economy, the forestry sector did not receive sufficient assistance. However, the sector’s productive capacity has the potential to be restored so as to play an important role for rural employment, industrial development, and environment preservation. The Government of Albania thus asked the World Bank and the Italian Government to contribute to the funding of a Forestry Project. The World Bank contributes to this initiative through a soft loan of US$ 8,000,000. Donations come from the Government of Italy, a grant of US$ 8,500,000, and the Government of Switzerland, a grant of US$ 450,000. Furthermore, Italy also finances through the Italy/FAO Trust Fund the “Technical Assistance to the Albanian Forestry Project”, which provides technical assistance for the implementation of the wider project. The Italy/FAO project budget is US$ 2.5 million and the selected components for this intervention are the institutional development of the forest administration, and improved management of State forests.