Vjosa National Park Now

With the new slogan Vjosa National Park Now, several NGOs have released a series of photos capturing the words “Vjosa National Park Now” cloaking the foreground of globally recognized monuments and buildings in Paris, Berlin, Brussels, and Tirana. The actors behind the visual action are targeting the attention of European and Albanian politicians, urging them to declare the Vjosa in Albania Europe’s first Wild River National Park. The historical designation is of international significance as it would safeguard 300 km of rivers and streams, host to over 1,100 species, many of which are threatened.

In September 2020, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced his intent to make the Vjosa a national park. However, the government has not taken any clear steps towards this designation. Plans submitted by the Albanian National Agency of Protected Areas include only minimal protection for the Vjosa, risking future hydropower construction, and falls far short of the protections inherent in a national park designation.

The action in Europe’s capitals was part of the MAVA-funded project to protect Vjosa and Aoos (Greek name of the upper Vjosa in Greece) as part of the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”. The demand for a declaration of a Vjosa National Park is supported by EU leaders, IUCN ECARO (International Union for Conservation of Nature, Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia) and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. To protect the river’s biodiversity and scenic values, and traditional land use activities, IUCN, which is also a partner in the project, prepared a report and identified several options for the protected area designation of the Vjosa River. They also conclude that a national park is the most appropriate category, especially for the middle part of the river.

Probably no other river in Europe deserves to be a national park more than the Vjosa.

To learn more, contact EuroNatur

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