Protection Status

Buna/Bojana Delta (Albanian part): Protected Water and Terrestrial Landscape

Ulcinj salina: Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention (from 2019)

Bojana-Buna and Ulcinj: Under the Sea

The Ulcinj Salina (in Montenegro), and the Bojana-Buna Delta (in both Montenegro and Albania) are spectacular networks of interconnected freshwater and coastal wetland habitats.

The many lagoons, saline and riverine environments are home to a great variety of plants and animals. The coastline’s sandy beaches attract thousands of tourists every year.

The delta is important for fishing and agriculture, including the cultivation of Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Due to its location, the Bojana-Buna delta is highly sensitive to climate change, and it is threatened not just by rising sea levels, but by coastal erosion and flooding rivers as well.

By 2100 the surrounding sea level is expected to rise by up to 620 millimeters. During extreme flood events, over 5 meters in height of land will end up under the sea.

What does this mean?

Rising sea levels (AND extreme weather events, AND coastal erosion) will create a ‘domino effect’ of irreversible damages across economy, food security and health, forcing citizens to tackle multiple crises all at the same time.

Tourism and Well-Being

1. Bojana-Buna’s beaches are currently along 21km of coastline.

By 2050, this 21 km stretch of sandy beach will shrink by 92% to just 1.68 km.

By 2100, sandy beaches will almost disappear completely leaving just 0.42 km.

Expected damages: 10 million Euros per year

2. Beach tourism related services / facilities make up 75% of all economic activity in the area, catering to the 400,000 tourists who visit the delta’s beaches every summer. Holidaymakers are an important source of income for the people who live in the Bojana-Buna Delta.

No beaches = no tourists, tourism-related employment or well-being activities.

3. Since 1936, the sea around the Bojana-Buna Delta has advanced inland by 400 m.

Since 2002, sea-levels have been swallowing land at a speed of 2.5 m per year

Food

1. The delta’s fertile floodplains (especially in Albania) are mainly used for agriculture: livestock grazing or growing maize, fodder, vegetable, fruits, olives, and officinal herbs such as Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Rising sea levels will see the area increasingly flooded by both river and marine waters. Not only will this increase the salinity of the soils and groundwater make growing important crops difficult, but by 2100 🡪

producers could lose their lands

km2 of agricultural lands could be under the sea

producers could lose their lands

km2 of agricultural lands could be under the sea

cows, sheep and goats will lose their grazing lands

2. Fishing is an important activity and significant source of income for many villages along the Buna river bank, Velipoje coast and on the Viluni Lagoon.

Of particular importance are traditional fishing done with Kalimero nets in Port Milena, the former outfall of Zoganjsko lagoon and the current drainage of Ulcinj Salina.

Rising sea levels means that river levels will also increase, creating problems for fishing activities and flooding restaurants currently situated along the delta.

Nature

The Bojana-Buna Delta’s unique mosaic of diverse habitats (including its natural and agricultural areas) is home to an extraordinary variety of plants and birds.

Additionally, the Delta is a migratory hotspot and an important stopping point along the European Bird Migration Flyways which pass over the Balkans.

The combined Bojana-Buna and Drin rivers, which link Lake Skadar (also called Skhoder) to the Adriatic Sea, are critically important migration routes for fish – and these combined wetlands support approx. 1,000 different plant species and 25,000 wintering water birds, of which 76% + are migratory.

As sea-levels rise, this unique mosaic ecosystem will transform into a marine environment threatening the diversity of animals and plants that are the life of the area, and turning a colourful and vibrant landscape into a sea of…well, sea.

The damages will be in biodiversity, natural beauty and identity.

 

Estimated economical values of damages are based on current prices and incomes from key sectors (e.g. Tourism) being directly affected by sea level rise.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

We Can Act Now for Bojana-Buna and Ulcinj

1. Implement the action plan found in the “Integrated Resources Management Plan for Buna Delta” paying particular attention to Objective 7 – “Increase the plan area’s resilience to climate change impacts and natural disaster” by encouraging nature based solutions, NbS, rather than hard engineering – including retention and restoration of wetlands and riverine environments.

2. Implement the plan developed by the ongoing “The Living Buna project” which focusses on improving the management of the protected landscape and reducing a range of impacts, including climate. The climate activities include capacity building for managers and management committee to improve the ecological health and resilience of the protected area.

3. Maintain and upscale the project for protecting, restoring and conserving the Ulcinj Salina.

4. Reinfornce the adaptive capacity of coastal communities.

For further information or enquiries please contact:

Liz Drury
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Tel. +381 63 359 020
elizabeth.drury@iucn.org