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Albania: Assisted Natural Regeneration of Degraded Lands
(BioCarbon Fund)

UNFCCC Reference No.: 2714

Project Photo 1
Badly degraded lands with little or no vegetative cover (Photo: MAF)

Land degradation is a major issue in Albania. Highly degraded land is a product of uncontrolled grazing, which prevents the growth of a protective vegetation cover. As a result, the terrain is eroding quickly leaving behind unproductive and barren lands. To halt the erosion, a vegetative cover must be established—proving an opportunity to institute a host of co-benefits as well.

The Project:
The Assisted Natural Regeneration of Degraded Lands in Albania project is restoring 6,300 hectares of degraded lands by assisting with the natural regeneration of vegetation.  The areas to be included in the project are all communal forest lands and involve a total of 24 communes and over 100 villages. The project is being implemented under the larger umbrella of the
Natural Resources Development Project (NRDP) , a World Bank loan project to the Government of Albania.  The project is implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) and its Directorate General for Forests and Pastures (DGFP).  Activities financed under the NRDP include: (a) protecting degraded land from grazing; (b) promoting natural seed sources to enable natural regeneration or re-growth; (c) supplemental planting to enrich species diversity and to stabilize highly eroded areas; and (d) silvicultural works (vegetative cutting to promote growth, such as coppicing, cleaning, and thinning).

Project Photo 2
The landscape has quickly regenerated as a result of the project, achieving better than expected results in some sites
Environmental Benefits:
The project is improving biomass accumulation on degraded lands, reducing soil degradation, improving water quality, and conserving biodiversity. A focus on improving livelihoods of the rural poor is alleviating pressure on over-exploited natural resources, promoting sustainable management of forests, pastures, and agricultural lands. In addition, improved land management is providing significant erosion control benefits, helping to moderate runoff, enhance water quality, and protect marine ecosystems.

Social and Community Benefits:
The reforestation activities occur on land distributed over some of the poorest regions in the country, and the project employs a participatory approach within these communities. Local communities are consulted about site selections and implementation of the reforestation activities. As a result, the project supports important environmental changes that translate into improved livelihoods of poor rural households.

Employment and revenue benefits
The project provides an opportunity to bring critically-needed sustainable revenue streams directly to poor rural communities. The project brings substantial employment benefits, providing short- and medium-term employment generated by reinvestment of carbon revenues, reduced maintenance costs of irrigation and drainage infrastructure, affordability of water treatment, and diminished flood risk.

Alternate resources and land products
In the longer term, the project will produce several alternate resources and land products, such as small timber, firewood, nuts and fruits (including chestnuts and cherries), and medicinal products. Where alternative pasture or grazing resources are in short supply, grasses germinated within fenced-off areas will be available for cutting and collection to serve as fodder for winter stall-feeding.

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