Author(s): Spase Shumka1, Bledar Pepa2
  • 1. Agricultural University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania
  • 2. University “I. Qemali”, Vlora, Albania

Abstract: Small water bodies compared to larger lentic freshwater ecosystems, are characterized by a lower area/perimeter ratio that emphasizes the contribution of ecotonal zones to their metabolism and functioning, maximizing the importance of their role as biogeochemical reactors, the small water ecosystems are shallow (not more than 20 m deep) and small lentic water bodies ranging in area between 1 m2 and several ha (≤10 ha), including small lakes, pools, ponds, and wetlands, both perennial and temporary, with an artificial or natural origin. Due to the geographical position, geological settings and climatic conditions Albania is distinguished by water resource riches. The entire county watershed is 43 905 km2, while only 65% is within the national borders. Before 1960, wetlands covered more than 2300 km2, equal to about 8% of the Albanian territory. Large reclamations processes for agricultural purposes strongly reduced the total area of the wetlands since then to less than half. Nevertheless, more than 1300 aquatic sites are still scattered throughout the country: marine habitats, coastal lagoons, fluvial deltas, rivers, springs, lakes and ponds. Wetlands cover a total surface of 970 km2, equal to about 3% of the whole national territory. The lakes, the coastal lagoons and the reservoirs represent the largest part of these aquatic habitats. All these ecosystems are distinguished by significant diversity of sensitive habitats and species, which so far are understudied and remain extremely vulnerable due significant impact. The impacts are referred to agriculture, tourism development, including nutrient loading and contamination, facing a rapid increase of non-native species invasion and climate change.