The Country:Albania has rich biological and geographical diversity, including rare wildlife, unique natural habitats, and a plethora of breathtakingly beautiful natural areas.
The nation’s environment is under serious threat as rapid economic development often takes precedence over environmental protection and preservation. Air, land, and water pollution from household and industry is widespread, and urban waste is an issue in most cities and towns. Illegal logging occurs throughout the country and in national parks causing rampant deforestation and loss of forest habitats. Species populations are declining along the coastline and in mountainous zones due to the loss of natural ecosystems.
Lack of awareness of the environment hastens its destruction, which will have long-term impacts for Albania. Environmental degradation causes diminished prospects for eco-tourism, contaminated food and water, health problems, and reduced economic opportunities. In Albania there is an urgent need for passionate, educated youth who are willing to work for environmental conservation and help change the future of the country.
There are currently 19 active Outdoor Ambassador clubs around the country and the project is adding new clubs each month. These clubs are led by Peace Corps volunteers and their Albanian counterparts, and involve students from nine-year schools and high schools.
Clubs meet one to two times a week and educate members about the environment. Club members are engaged in classroom activities and in-the-field observation and exploration.
Youth are challenged to identify the most pressing ecological concerns in their communities and plan, develop, and implement conservation projects that address these issues.
Outdoor Ambassador clubs in various cities have already implemented trash pick-ups, publicity campaigns, and tree planting and hope to extend their activities in the next several months.