Gashi River in Tropoja district in the North-East of Albania – in the border zone with Montenegro and Kosovo – and the ancient beech forests of Rrajca in Perrenjas, central Elbasan district, were inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The World Heritage Committee, in its 41st session in Krakow, Poland, two days ago approved the extension of the World Heritage site of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany, which now stretches over 12 countries: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine.

This transboundary extension of the World Heritage site of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine) stretches over 12 countries. Since the end of the last Ice Age, European beech spread from a few isolated refuges in the Alps, Carpathians, Mediterranean and Pyrenees over a short period of a few thousand years in a process that is still ongoing. This successful expansion is related to the tree’s flexibility and tolerance of different climatic, geographical and physical conditions.

Minister of Environment Lefter Koka hailed the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decision via a Facebook message on Saturday.

“Albania is blessed with amazingly stunning nature but has been punished by neglect and misconduct over the years! Over these four years only, our vision for the environment and especially for the protected areas yielded the first results by scoring significant achievements at the international level,” Koka wrote on his Facebook page.

The component part Gashi River (Lumi i Gashit) is located in the North-East of Albania in the border zone with Montenegro and Kosovo in the area of the European Green Belt. It belongs to the Accursed Mountains (Bjeshket e Namuna), or often referred to as Albanian Alps.

The reserve covers the upper catchment area of the mountain river Lumi i Gashit including the spring and its partly only temporary tributaries. Gashi river is traversed by a dense network of hydrological, the reason that it has a pronounced mountains character.

The component Rajca is located in the upper Bushtrica valley within the borders of Shebenik­ Jablanica National Park. The NP is located in the North-eastern part of Librazhd District in Elbasan County in central Albania. The areas above an elevation of approximately 1,230 m on both sides of the Bushtrica valley and the tributaries of Bushtrica River are covered by a close, old growth beech forest of primeval character. The area is an important habitat for the Balcan Lynx. Source: ATA/AgroWeb.org