The objective of this study is to provide a general view of the forest fires in Albania, their impacts on forest ecosystem services, and gaps in the existing legal framework.
The last year, media coverage of catastrophic forest fires in Vlora (National Park of Llogara), Gjirokaster, Kukes (Rrune mountain), Mirdite (Thirre site), Voskopje, Fier and Kruje among others, has captured widespread attention. Causes and consequences underlying these disasters differ vastly from a location to another. Fires have destroyed land, forests and houses and caused the death of one person in Gjirokastra and one military officer was injured and hospitalized.
Forest disturbances can be abiotic (e.g., droughts), biological (e.g., bark beetle), and human-made (e.g., deforestation). Fire is particular case, at the crossroad of natural and human influences, whose potential for disaster is a source of growing concern all over the world.
Forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services. In addition to providing food, fuel and fibre, forests clean the air, filter water supplies, control floods and erosion, sustain biodiversity and genetic resources, and provide opportunities for recreation, education, and cultural enrichment. Forest fires, in fact, alter water quality and carbon cycling, and can lead to changes in vegetation types and structures, at least temporarily and particularly in non-fire prone ecosystems which are more susceptible to impacts (Vaz et al., 2017; Harper et al., 2018). In addition, the wildfires, play key roles in ecosystem dynamics and the retention of species that have evolved in response to fire (Pausas and Keeley 2009).