A new afforestation method is applied for the first time in Albania

Albania's "barrier forest" lost 800 hectares to wildfire. But a pilot project tests a low-cost method using seed balls to revive the land.

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Soil ball. Photo: Abdulla Diku

“Pishe-Poro” is a forest ecosystem which has been declared a protected area together with the Narte lagoon with DCM no. 694, dated 26.10.2022, as “Protected Landscape”, category V (IUCN). This area is also part of the EMERALD and IBA network. The area has a total surface of 16124.61 hectares.

The Pishë-Poros forest lies in the sand dune system of the Ardiatic coast in western part of Albania. Along the coast, Mediterranean pines were planted in the 60s, which, in addition to recreation, were also a protective measure against coastal erosion in Albania. This forest formation is represented by several species of Mediterranean pines, the most common being Maritime pine (Pinus maritima Aiton.), The stone pine (Pinus pinea L.) and Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.). Its shrub floor is represented by Mediterranean species, such as Pistacia lentiscus, Erica manipuliflora, Myrtus communis, etc. This protective forest was also a natural ‘barrier’ between the sea and the fields of agricultural land in the area of Fier region.

Source: Google Earth

In 2023, as a result of massive forest fires, about 800 hectares of pines and pine saplings were completely burned, destroying in this way one of the most important protected areas in Albania.

In order to aim at the regeneration of this burned area, for the first time in Albania, the method of planting with soil balls was applied, for testing purposes. For this reason, 2000 pine seeds (P.pinea) were used, which were inserted into the soil balls. The composition of the soil balls was; clay 40%, peat 50% and other plant content at 10%.

Seed balls were thrown on the ground in a part of the burnt area. In total 5 people were engaged to drop them on the ground, where this simple work process was done for about 30 minutes.

Since this method of afforestation is also considered as a ‘Nature based solution’, we hope that this pilot-project will be successful and the burned area will be regenerated through this method.

The method was originally initiated by the Japanese farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka, and in this pilot activity we mostly followed his instructions, adapting and changing some of them based on local circumstances. Let’s remember that in Albania the costs of afforestation are quite high (10,000-15,000 euro/hectare), while through this method, the cost remains at fairly low levels ranging from 300-500 euros/hectare.

Planting seed balls. Photo: Abdulla Diku
VIAAbdulla Diku
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Abdulla Diku
ABDULLA DIKU holds a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Sustainable Forest Management, and is working as a freelance expert. His main work was focused on environmental protection, forestry, nature conservation, and climate changes.