Oct 8, 2014

A few thoughts | On Albanian National Public Lands

Lura National Park, Albania
 Public lands are all of those lands that belong to the public such as parks, forests, grasslands, scenic by-ways and waterways. These public lands include state parks, nature reserves, national forests and parks and other public monuments. [via]
As a kid, I was in awe of them, drawn to their vastness, history, habitat and pure magnificence. Always hopeful to visit and curious to get lost in them. Perfect backdrop for a child's imagination to run wild. Fortunately, not much has changed. My curiosity and imagination of such places, the wish to go back and explore still remain just as fearless, but not as innocent and trusting as before. They have become a challenge. A kind of post-apocalyptic challenge (if you will) in looking for these (now contaminated) lands. Recognizing them. Even finding them. The Albanian National Public Lands.

This article made me think of them earlier today. And I asked myself if I could still name or describe them. Sadly, I could not. Not for lack of remembering (or researching) but because their ownership (publicness), maintenance (management) and overall identity (natural habitat/cultural heritage) as such, has been successfully threatened (if not already destroyed) these past twenty (plus) years. 

After visiting a few of the bigger ones a couple of years back, I found it hard to grasp what they had been reduced to. Contaminated Lands. A trace of former self. A legacy passed on just in name. A future that weighs like a headstone. 

photo via diagstudio
The article defines National Public Lands as:
1. Land owned by everyone and no one, where each citizen has a stake in its health but no one person can claim it for his/her own.
2. Land managed by civil servants (including local and/or state employees).
3. Land that is home to many wild creatures including threatened/endangered plant and animal species. 
4. Land that we are all responsible for, taking care of it and its habitat individually and collectively by not littering or removing necessary items. 
5. Special places that should be around for generations and visitors to enjoy.
Even after following this absolute minimum requirement list to define the Albanian National Public Lands of my childhood, I wasn't certain any of the ones I knew would classify as such. Not anymore. Many have been touched and brutally transformed beyond recognition. Man has left his mark. And what a permanent (beyond consequential) one that has been. It is time to hold him accountable. To educate him. To not blame climate change. Not in Albania. Not yet. It is time to stop celebrating the (so many) days dedicated to National Public Lands. There is nothing to celebrate. Man needs to stop throwing feasts in his 'honor'. His 'honor' is destroying his heritage. But wait, he is raising awareness... Well, in that case.. I'd like to ask when will he raise appreciation?! 

photo via diagstudio
My inner child is furiously disappointed. Weren't we all raised to appreciate and better what was given to us?! [Maybe my la-la land is not your land (pity!!)..or, maybe I'm just not good at this challenge.]


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