Tirana is one example of a European capital where green space is lacking and the pollution levels are above the European norms. When it comes to urban planning, the situation can be demonstrated by the fact that the city’s strategic plan changed every four years. Construction companies continue building although at this moment there are around 8000 unsold apartments on the market.
Gradually, the green areas are transformed into concrete jungle, but one thing that both the government and the investors didn’t take into consideration was activists’ response. When the Tirana Lake Park was endangered by construction projects that don’t fit into the protected green area, activists reacted. According to the announced plan, there was space for four towers at the main park entrance. Thehidden governmental agenda to urbanize the green area was continually monitored for 20 weeks. During this time frame, there were also court hearings, followed by the court’s decision to stop the building of two towers. The investors appealed to the high court and got permission to build as planned.
In February 2016, new fences surrounded an area within the Tirana Lake Park. As the first trees were cut down, dozens of activists gathered and denounced the illegality of those fences. Furthermore, they undertook an action to remove the fences. Through their action activists’ intention was to bring public space back to citizens. As a consequence , 13 of them were detained by the police and one woman ended up hospitalized. In the following days, metal fences replaced the removed wooden ones, and this time the fences were protected by the Tirana municipality police.
After two unsuccessful attempts to break the fences, activists decided to continue with a permanent sit in protest. Soon, the construction equipment arrived and activists tried to stop it, but the police forces multiplied and the municipality police forces were joined by the state police as well. Responding to the initial protests, the mayor of Tirana said that there won’t be any concrete. The permanent sit in protest served to achieve transparency and revoke the Mayor’s claims. Via their facebook page, they used photos and videos from the construction site were used to show that walls were being filled with concrete and raised inside the park.
On June 1st, the municipality removed the fences and presented what they called “The Children’s Playground”. Concrete walls and concrete structures covered with synthetic grass were advertised as a great project for the children of Tirana.
The struggle for the green space in Tirana has been on-going for 2 years.
Activists won’t give up their right to green and public space in Tirana. Currently there is only 0.8 m2 of green space per capita, which is way below the European standards requiring 7m2 per capita, and way below the standards advised by the World Health Organization requiring 9 m2 per capita. Theseare some of conclusions made by the activists:
- Public awareness and public support
- The government retreated temporarily in regards to the parks’ entrance plans
- The first instance court stopped the 2 buildings on the north
- The municipality edited the “Children Playground”
- Forced Government to do more transparency
- Many new people joined the movement
We didn’t achieve:
- Stopping 900 m3 concrete poured into the heart of the park
- 43 activists have open cases in the court
- We failed to delay the building in the East part of the park
- Of the +100 Environment NGO that are in Albania, none helped us in the struggle for The Park.