Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park
The Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park is a national park in eastern Albania adjacent to the border with the Republic of Macedonia. It encompasses 339.277 square kilometres (33,927.7 ha) and specifically marked by a mountainous landscape supplied with glacial lakes, valleys, dense coniferous and deciduous forests and alpine meadows and pastures. Elevations in the park vary from 300 metres to over 2,200 metres above the Adriatic at the peak of Shebenik and Jabllanica, hence the name. It dwells a number of endangered species that are fast becoming rare in Southern Europe, including the brown bear, gray wolf and balkan lynx. The abundance in wildlife can in part be explained by the variety of vegetation types and remote location.
The park offers some of the most rugged scenery in the eastern section of country that were carved into their present shapes by the glaciers of the last ice age. It is home to 14 glacial lakes, the highest situated between 1,500 and 1,900 metres elevation above the Adriatic. Small cirque glaciers are fairly common in the mountain ranges, situated in depressions on the side of many mountains. Two rivers flow and multiple smaller water sources flow through the park’s area including the rivers of Qarrishte and Bushtrice, both of which are 22 km long. The park area is thought to contain one of the primary remaining ranges of the balkan lynx, a subspecies of the eurasian lynx.
The park falls within the Dinaric Mountains mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion of the Palearctic Temperate broadleaf and mixed forest. The forests are home to a number of different rare and endemic species of plants, mammals and fungi. The park contains beech, fir, pines, and oak species as well as species such as purple willow, norway maple, silver birch, and silver fir in the northern slopes of the mountains. Bird species include the golden eagle, western capercaillie, and hazel grouse.
The park is managed by a directorate subordinated to the Ministry of Environment and based in the towns of Librazhd and Prrenjas. It is among the newest and the second largest national park in Albania. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed the park as Category II. It also includes the Rajca Nature Reserve. Although 212,945 hectares (2,129.45 km2) of the park’s territory are included within the Primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Notably, it is also part of the European Green Belt, which serves as a retreat for endangered animal and plant species. The mountains of Shebenik and Jablanica and the region of Rajcë has been recognised as an Important Plant Areas of international importance by Plantlife.