Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture

Quarterly Journal of International Agriculture No. 4/11

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Albania’s Customary Rules in Natural Resource Management in the Light of Devolution Policies

Klodjan Rama and Insa Theesfeld
Leibniz Institute of Agriculture Development in Central and Eastern Europe (IAMO), Halle (Saale), Germany


The management of natural resources is a challenging task owing to the complexity of the resources and the benefits they provide. Nowadays there is trend to transfer some management power to local communities driven by equality and sustainability assumptions. We studied two cases of local management – forests and fisheries – in Albania, which resulted in contrasting outcomes. In the forestry case, the local community manages its resource in a sustainable way based on its customary rules supporting equal shares to members and encouraging participation in decision making procedures for common issues. In contrast, the fishery case represents an example of overexploitation and information asymmetries, where powerful actors benefit over others. We argue that disregarding the local context when implementing new sets of rules can both exacerbate the unsustainable use of natural resources and have an impact on the social power structures.

Keywords: Albania, devolution, Kanun, forestry, fishery

JEL: B 52, P 32, Q 01, Q 15, Q 23, Q 28

Vol. 50 (2011), No. 4: 369-387