Evidence of climate change in Seman estuary and Karavasta lagoon in Albania

Jul 24, 2020

Institute for Environmental Policy has done research in one of the largest lagoons in Mediterranean and its nearby site where they documented how the sea is advancing inland, eroding the coast and threatening rich biodiversity and people’s livelihood.

Albania is one of the most affected countries in Europe by climate change, due to the severity of impacts, and low human and infrastructural capacities to adapt to these impacts. In a situation like this the Institute for Environmental Policy (IEP) is fully engaged on the topic of climate change, monitoring several points in Albania, defined as sensitive, and using the information in the awareness campaign on the climate crisis and ways how to mitigate it. Recently, due to the missing data, they decided to inspect the situation in the Karavasta Lagoon and the nearby Seman estuary. 

Karavasta Lagoon is one of the most important lagoons in Albania, as the largest in the country and one of the largest in the Mediterranean Sea, spanning over the area of 42 km2. The lagoon is located inside the boundaries of the Divjake Karavasta National Park and is recognised as a wetland of international importance by designation under the Ramsar Convention as well as Important Bird Area. The lagoon is monitored regularly by environmental inspectors, but the nearby sites like the Seman estuary, south of the National park, is left in the dark.

For that reason, IEP team on 26th June took the initiative to monitor the climate affections on this site and evidence it. With the support of SEENET subgrant they filmed the condition of lagoons and wetlands along the coast and produced a video about climate change in Seman estuary.

The video is available on SEENET Facebook page.

The video presented salinization of the estuary and partial desertification in many sites which raised the attention to think that the climate effects may start kilometers away from the coast and represent a direct threat to the agriculture and biodiversity nearby. In the area around 240 species of birds have been encountered throughout the year, which lead to development of birdwatching as an ecotourism type in the recent years.

On the coast the advancing of the sea is obvious and together with the dead-tree trunks inside the water shows the similarity with other parts of the Albanian coast affected by climate change like in the lagoon on Kune Vain in the north.

Besides natural pressure to flora and fauna the estuary is full of waste, one part thrown in the estuary and the rest brought by the Seman river. People living off fishing, livestock and agriculture have harder time to survive as temperature increases, sea rises, plastic piles up and vegetation vanishes.

That is why the documentation is very significant as only with real time monitoring and presenting the current situation to all people, can we realise the climate crisis is not a far away problem. Then people in the region can relate more closely to the problem of climate change and its consequences and choose to make changes as well as to support them.