Concerned with the aggressive enclosure of green public space, Tirana residents have yet again resorted to protests to attempt to save a local park. Self-declared by locals a ‘concrete jungle’, old-style apartment buildings dominate Tirana’s cityscape. Trees are dotted on main boulevards but the lack of green space is dire. As a result, pollution levels in the Albanian capital are also alarming, as, without vegetation, the quality of air has seen a steep decline.
In spring 2016, a series of large-scale protests were organised in the city, as the local government decided to go into the only significant green space, the Artificial Lake Park, to build a large scale children’s playground made out of concrete. Protesters opposed the plans, blocked the vehicles that were sent to cut down the trees, and resisted the development for days, but ultimately the municipality won.
In 2017, a second ‘park’ protest took place in Tirana, concerning another, this time much smaller green area, near the Tirana bus station. The local park had been transformed into a landscaped area by the former government, standing on the previous location of a dumping ground. The following Social-Democrat government had other plans for the space though. These plans were postponed until after the election, when it was publically announced that two building permits had been granted, enabling the construction of two high rise buildings. These permits would essentially erase the only green space that was developed for the neighbourhood. Protesters have accused the company that won the permits of falsifying environmental documents and demanded that the municipality backtracks on its plans to allow the construction work.
The Albanian mainstream media has largely ignored the protests, while most of the coverage of protests and citizens’ concerned has shifted to smaller, online news portals and social media. At this point, it is unsure as to what will happen to the bus station park, though the mayor has avoided to directly address the protesters, and workers had already pulled out trees and fenced off the area.
Update: The state of the park in September 2017