Aoos at the 14th COP to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

Aoos at the 14th COP to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

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MedINA attended the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals*, CMS – COP14, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 12 to 17 February. Under the conference theme “Nature knows no borders”, which was intended to remind us that the movements of migratory wildlife species are not affected by administrative boundaries and that their survival depends on international cooperation and transboundary protection and conservation efforts, we presented, together with our international partners, the transboundary project for the protection and conservation of the Aoos/Vjosa River.

In particular, at a side event entitled “Innovative mechanisms for connectivity conservation along free-flowing river ecosystems”, organised by the IUCN ECARO (Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia), Oliver Avramoski, IUCN ECARO Director, showed the current status of protection in the transboundary area and Ulrika Åberg, IUCN Programme Officer, presented the proposal for institutional protection of the Aoos River Basin in Greece, titled “Protection study of the Aoos River Basin based on IUCN protected area standards”, which is addressed to the Greek authorities and contains concrete proposals and steps for the effective protection and conservation of the area.

Dimitris Papageorgiou, MedINA’s Local Coordinator for Aoos, then highlighted MedINA’s work and efforts to protect the cross-border ecological corridor of the Aoos/Vjosa River from current pressures and imminent threats. He stressed that in addition to the recent encouraging developments regarding the institutional protection of the river by both the Greek and Albanian authorities, further steps need to be taken immediately by both countries to ensure the unimpeded flow of the river along its entire length, the preservation of its ecological status and, consequently, the protection of the migratory species that use it as a free ecological corridor.

Similarly, Olsi Nika, Director of EcoAlbania, spoke in his online intervention about the rich mosaic of life, with many endemic and migratory species that depend entirely on the Aoos/Vjosa river ecosystem. The event’s panel also included Ryan Gellert, CEO of the clothing company Patagonia, and David Gadsden, Director of Conservation at Esri, who welcomed the efforts of environmental organisations and focused on the need to keep the last free-flowing rivers of the Balkans in good condition, avoiding the mistakes of the past that fragmented Europe’s rivers with thousands of dams, diversions, and other interventions.

The ensuing discussion with representatives of states and international biodiversity protection organisations was of great interest and the very encouraging comments we received act as a strong catalyst, reinforcing our commitment to continue our efforts to make the Aoos/Vjosa River the first transboundary free-flowing river park in Europe.

We would like to thank IUCN and our partner EuroNatur for the opportunity to share our vision for the Aoos/Vjosa river with the world!

© MedINA.

*The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals is a United Nations environmental treaty that provides a global platform for cooperation on the conservation and sustainable management of migratory wildlife and their habitats. It acts as a framework for coordination between countries through which migratory animals pass and provides the legal basis for coordinated conservation efforts on their migratory routes, such as rivers and airways. It focuses on the protection of endangered species and promotes strong conservation measures.

During COP14, governments, scientists, civil society organisations and other stakeholders met and agreed on strategies to conserve migratory species and their habitats in response to the escalating challenges posed by the environmental crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and land use change. In particular, the need to maintain or improve the ecological status of corridors linking wildlife migratory routes was highlighted.