Climate change threatens Albanian wetlands


The number of waterbirds using Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park – a wetland site of major importance in Albania – is dropping, with climate change the driving factor.

Situated in the north of the Balkan nation, Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park encompasses the Drin river delta and faces the Adriatic Sea, spanning an area of 44 sq km. It was established as a reserve in 2010 and has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

Almost 200 migratory species have been recorded – but numbers are dropping, with wintering birds found to be decreasing during a survey in January 2024. 

Greater Flamingo is one of the many waterbird species found at Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park (Alan Jack).


Declining waterbirds

Local conservationists say that poaching, poisoning, collision with power lines and loss of habitat are key factors, but that spiking temperatures across the globe prove even more disruptive.

"There are many reasons, but above all it is global warming which has affected migration and breeding seasons," said Kreshnik Toni, who oversees the protected nature reserves in Lezhe, which includes Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park.

Local fishermen have also blamed warming waters for the overall decline in fish populations in the area, depriving the birds of vital food. Once abundant, the population of eels – a favoured prey for many species – in the area has dropped by as much as 80%, said Cel Arifi, who oversees fishing operations at the Vain Lagoon.