Opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania: A green light also for endangered species & habitats conversations

Opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania: A green light also for endangered species & habitats conversations
Gave a green light to opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania is very important for further protection of wildlife in Albania. Concretely, the two legal frameworks on which is based conservation of species and habitats in European and Council of Europe country members are: Bern Convention and Habitats Directive. The Bern Convention, which currently has 51 contracting parties, provides the overarching legal framework for nature conservation in Europe. Its objectives are ‘to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats, especially those species and habitats whose conservation requires the co-operation of several States, and to promote such co-operation,’ giving particular emphasis to ‘endangered and vulnerable species. Albania has been part to the Bern Convention since 1999. The Habitats Directive is the principal nature conservation instrument of the EU, and binds its member states. It aims for the maintenance or achievement of a ‘favourable conservation status’ for a range of species and habitat types, in order to contribute to biodiversity conservation in Europe.   But, which are the principal legal obligations imposed by the Bern Convention and the EU Habitats Directive that are of actual or potential relevance for the conservation of the Balkan lynx and other large carnivores in the south-west Balkans? In answer of this question, in framework of Balkan Lynx Recovery Program a very valuable report on the Bern Convention, the EU Habitats Directive and the conservation of Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus) and other large carnivores has been prepared by the international law expert Arie Trouwborst. The focus of this report is on the current and potential future relevance of the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive for the conservation of the Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus) and other large carnivores in the south-west Balkans, especially brown bear (Ursus arctos) and wolf (Canis lupus). Specifically, it can provide a benchmark to facilitate an informed assessment of the changes in the laws, policies and practices of North Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo which are necessary in order to ensure the conformity of those laws, policies and practices with the requirements of the Bern Convention and the Habitats Directive. The Balkan lynx, as a subspecies, was uplisted from Appendix III to Appendix II of the Bern Convention in 2017, upon a proposal by Albania, making it a strictly protected species under the Convention. Brown bear and wolf have a similar status under the Bern Convention.   Concretely, attaining these European standards requires each range country to do systematically monitoring the conservation status of Balkan lynx; designating the most important sites for Balkan lynx as protected areas; carrying out effective policies to prevent the illegal killing of lynx; maintaining healthy populations of prey species and carrying out a comprehensive set of measures to ensure the restoration and conservation of the species. To meet the requirements of the Bern Convention and Habitats Directive, all of these measures must be taken with urgency by Albanian’s relevant institutions, given the precarious conservation status of the subspecies.
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