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Newsletter for project

Newsletter for project: Ecological and economical assessment of ecosystem services in the Karavasta Lagoon”.


This project is granted by the CriticalEcosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and is implemented bythe “Agro Environmental & Economic Management-Center(AEEM-Center)” in collaboration with project partner (PPNEA),in Albania.

Karavasta Lagoon, (Ramsar site since 1996) is included on the most various mosaics of coastal habitats in Albania that extend between Shkumbini and Semani river, in the central part of the Albanian Adriatic coast. Karavasta is the largest lagoon in Albania with an areaof 4,600 ha.

The area Divjaka - Karavasta is estimated to have high natural values from the Strategy and Coastal Zone Management, the project "Management of Wetlands" (the Lagoon-1995-1997, Phare) and the Strategy Action Plan for Biodiversity in Albania. The lagoon of Karavasta was identified as a priority wetland site in the World Bank Environmental Strategy Study for Albania, prepared in 1993.

The lagoon is a protected area andbesides its importance as a natural heritage, Karavasta Lagoon is threatened by several factors. Increase in population, human activities, industries and agriculture around the coastal environment are greatly affecting the neutrality of the water system. Lagoon pollution has been increasingly significant over the recent years and this has been found to contribute significantly to environmental problems.

The conservation of Karavasta Lagoon KBA in the Albanian socio-economical context, in order to be more effective would certainly require an integrated approach that foresees sustainable socio-economical development actions as a mean/strategy to achieve long term biodiversity conservation objectives. Meanwhile such approach promotes community and local key stakeholder participation and networking for sustainable socio-economic development and long term nature conservation. In order to realize this objectives of the project were:

1)      Identify and describe the ecological assets, ecosystem services and goods sourcing from them

2)      Carry out an economical assessment of Ecosystem services and goods

3)      Carry out an ecological assessment of Ecosystem services

4)      Raise awareness and build capacities on socio-economical benefits of sustainable use of the ecosystem services

To identify the goods and services of Karavasta lagoon we have adopted the classification of ecosystem services proposed by Millennium Assessment (MA) (2005).

So this project identified the present key goods and services of Karavasta lagoon, categorized them based on MillenniumAssessment 2005 methodology, divided them in use value and non use value and give to the key goods and services a degree of measurement (high, medium, lower...), based on the information of the lagoon.

According to MA,

(i) Provisioning services with direct use are fisheries (high level), medicinal plants, agriculture, mineral, wildlife (medium level) and Provisioning services with indirect use are endemic plants

(high level), water (Medium level);

(ii) Regulating services with direct use are recreation, education, cultural, historical and traditional services (high level) and within direct use Flood and Flow control (high level), Hydrological regime, Biological regulation (low level);

(iii) Supporting services with direct use are; Supports a range of biological diversity (high level), and Water Transport (low level) and supporting services with indirect use such as supporting a productive fishing environment (medium level).

The goods and services of the Lagoon are mainly utilized from the residents of the nearby villages such as Mize, Zharnec, Kryekuq, Bedat, Xeng and Divjaka. Fish from the Lagoon is distributed all over the country. Tourists engage in this activity mostly during the summer and then occasionally. According to locals, the main goods and services offered by the Lagoon are provided by fishing, agriculture and the Divjaka beach. The Lagoon supports a diversified range of biodiversity, is populated by endemic and sub endemic species.

The aim of the economical assessment was to provide a clear picture of the economic evaluation of the ecosystem services as “new product”, very useful for guiding the sustainable development of the Lagoon area. Our aim was to promote this “product” to the policymakers and local stakeholders.

From the interviews and surveys conducted in Karavasta Lagoon we have identified 2 main activities (fisheries, agriculture) from which the community receives income, and other like tourism which may be a great potential for this area but unfortunately it is not used and didn’t produce regularly income.


The identification of goods and services is necessary not only for the citizen of the lagoon to have more information in a better use but also the institutions to take care in a better management plan of this important area.

After identification of the key services and activities which provide income to the lagoon,  our objectives were identification of the most appropriate tools for estimating the economic value of the key goods and services, estimate the economic value of these key goods and services, and the determinants of this value.

The economic valuation was done using the direct use goods, as identified as the two major uses: fisheries, and agriculture. The market price values of these two goods were used to put a monetary value to the lagoon. Also a valuation was done using the non –use value as tourism, given the lack of a market because for tourism in Karavasta lagoon didn’t exist a real market for cultural activities and the income for this area is not recorded. It exists only a spontaneous tourism. The contingent valuation method is used to determine the value of an ecosystem by finding out how much survey respondents are willing to pay for particular ecosystem attributes or services.

The methods used for the economical assessment of these activities are: Market Price Method.

From the results of the survey and other data about the economic value in Karavasta lagoon we can say that the TOTAL ECONOMIC VALUE about the two main direct activities Agriculture and Fisheries and the spontaneous, hypothetical market created of Tourism is: 28,744.610Euro.

The economic value is a very important point of this project for a sustainable development. This may helped not only the residents of the lagoon to know the value but also the institution to implement this methodology in other area with high biodiversity and services.



The main purpose ecological assessment was to provide information on lagoon water quality and the heavy metal levels in the surface as well as in depth of the water. The study serves to determine (i) water quality in the Karavasta Lagoon using physico-chemical parameters, (ii) its status for the support of living organisms in it, and also to compare with lagoon ecosystem standards.

The study showed that physic-chemical parameters measured in the lagoon should be monitored. Increased temperature and salinity in July is accompanied by the reduction of dissolved oxygen in the depth of the lagoon and therefore this phenomenon leads in damaging or reducing the rate of growth of living organisms in the lagoon. The physic chemical parameters have to be monitored in the sampling stations 1, 7 and 8 influenced by fishing activities and by the flow of drainage\ channel. The distribution of heavy metals in the water of the lagoon varies depending on the season and sampling stations. The elements Cu, Pb in some stations are found to be close to the allowable values by the EU standards and represent a potential contamination risk . The average values of Cr in water of Karavasta lagoon in both seasons were higher than the European standards. This can be explained by the flow of Shkumbini River, which runs in ultramafic areas of the country, or passes through the metallurgical site. The results indicate that the levels of trace metals found in the sediments of the Karavasta Lagoon might create an adverse effect on the aquatic ecosystem, especially since it receives discharges from fish processing center and drainage channel. Considering this study for the state of heavy metals in the lagoon of Karavasta, as a conclusion it could be said that continuous monitoring has to be carried out in order to prevent its pollution.

The data provided at Karavasta lagoon indicate that Karavasta Lagoon is characterized by soluble forms of N, and P at a moderate level, comparable with Mediterranean lagoons the status is transitory. They serve as a buffer zone between the sea and wetlands that are use for agriculture. One of the important invisible functions is biological filtering of excess nutrients and heavy metals through their vegetation. Based on the Red bookand new electronic variant (2006) we identified 10 species as Rare and threatened plants, mainly of sandy dunes, as well as on aluvional forests, costal wetlands Pancratium maritimum L., Matthiola tricuspidata (L.)R.Br., Quercus ilex L., Ammophila arenaria L., Hypericum perforatum L., Origanum vulgare L., Lotus cytisoides L., Colchicum autumnale L., Stachys maritima Gouan, Quercus robur L. Knowing the level of heavy metals in water, sediments and plants of the lagoon constitutes a valuable contribution to fishing companies and farmers that live around the lagoon. Description and recognition of flora around the lagoon constitutes a valuable contribution to biologists, tourists and guides policy makers on conservation measures.

The findings of this project were published in two brochures and leaflets which will serve users of the lagoon in the future and will orient the policy makers.




About us

Agro-Environmental & Economic Management-Center (AEEM-Center) is registeredwith decision no. 728, dated 03.04. 2012, of Tirana District Court, with itsheadquarters in the following address:"Zef Jubani" Street, No. 5, Tirana.The mission AEEM-CENTER focuses on is the development of a sustainable environment through a comprehensive work.  read more 



 Its purpose is solving the economic problems by combining the growing need for natural resources in agriculture with the sustainable management of the agro-environment, by making studies, researches, consulting, and training and by undertaking different projects;


1. Offering expertise and service to community and government structures,

2.  Lobbying at national and international interventions undertaken about environment,

3.  Education and rehabilitation issues related to the environment 

4. Environmental interventions in the damaged and contaminated areas,

5. Encourages and promotes an inclusive participation.

The members of the organization, experts in the field of agro-environment and social-economic.


This page is opened in the frame of project: Development of guest house and agro-tourism in Key Biodiversity Areas of Albania as a mean to promote rural development and nature conservation in Divjaka.

This project is supported by Czech Republic Embassy in Tirane in the frame of Local Small Scale Project and is undertaken with collaboration Divjaka Municipality


The Divjaka - Karavasta National Park is the largest non-coastal complex in Albania, made of four lagoons with a total of approximately 5,000 hectares, of sand dunes and a river delta.The National Park Divjake-Karavasta is about 22,230 hectares. The park is one of the most beautiful and preferred places in the sea coast, excellent for ecotourism, relaxing, research and study, for diverse ecological landscape and biodiversity characteristics. Furthermore, the park is the part of the coastal area of the country which is estimated as the most important and valuable from the economic in two aspects: the sustainable development and the environment protection.  It is situated in the central part of Western Region, between Shkumbini River in the north and Seman River in the south, 40 km west of Lushnja, by the Adriatic coast.Divjakë - Karavasta National Park is listed as Ramsar site since 1994.

The Management Plan for the National Park is currently under preparation, however for the moment there are significant problems related to the sustainable management of the park. In the park, hunting pressure on all species was uncontrolled. Another biological threat is overfishing.  The forest area has suffered to some  extent due to illegal cutting of fuel wood and timber

One way to resolve this problem is to provide to local communities other alternative sustainable livelihoods, such as tourism and more specifically guest house tourism, which is a form of tourism that asks less investments and is getting quite demanded. Once local communities start seeing and “touching” the benefits coming from such activity they will be more aware on conserving nature in order to let it as attractive as it is for attracting more tourists.

This project will have a significant impact on improving the tourism infrastructure in the area. At the end of this project tourists interested to visit the National Park of Divjake-Karavasta will have more places that wait them as guests.  Moreover, this will serve as a good example to spread the guest house tourism in the area. Providing such alternative livelihood, is expected to contribute in the socio-economic development of local communities in the area and in the mean time lower the pressure towards exploiting of natural resources. The aim  is to increase the number of tourists visiting the area through providing tourism infrastructure and promoting such infrastructure and the area through different means (see the activities) .