On Sunday, February 19, 2023, Aoos was «hosted» on the pages of «Oi Topoi Mas» (Our Lands) magazine. The journalist Natassa Blatsiou and the photographer Penelope Thomaidi travelled to the plain of Konitsa and got to know the river «through the people who live it every day, study it and want to protect it».
The tribute records locals’ daily habits, their occupation with agriculture and livestock farming, the difficulties they face in their work fields, but also the joy they receive from living next to the «river».
There are many stories to tell about the walk along Aoos, through which unfolds the wild and unparalleled beauty of the river, with its rushing waters, the single-arched stone bridge of Konitsa, the rich fauna, the variety of its natural landscapes, but also the cultures that developed there under the stamp of water.
Since the Albanian part of the river, Vjosa as it is called, was officially declared a National Park along its entire length, the vision for locals and travellers alike is now the institutional protection of the Aoos basin, in its entirety, so as to also include the plain of Konitsa.
Alexandra Pappa, Freshwater Programme Manager of MedINA, refers to the dilemma of hydropower plants versus the preservation of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe, including the Aoos.
She stresses that the vision of our alliance «Save the Blue Heart of Europe» is to create a transboundary park on the Aoos/Vjosa River, in order to preserve the ecosystem through its institutional protection. «The fact that we protect an area on paper does not mean that it is protected in practice as well. The local communities that live near the river and are connected to it, need to embrace the initiative of its protection, to live in harmony with the regulations of the protected area and ideally to take over its management themselves». In Konitsa, the vast majority of the local community is in favour of protecting the Aoos as a whole!