The efforts for the protection and preservation of the Aoos River, the last free-flowing river in Europe, from the 1980s to the present day.

“Aoos is full of life. It hosts many species of fish, while around it there are habitats that are important for species such as brown bears, grey wolves, roe deer, otters, wild boars. There is a great variety of habitats that are important for the conservation of many species in our country”
-Tonia Galani, Biologist, Pindos Perivallontiki

The construction of 62 micro-dams in the entire river basin is currently being planned and it is necessary to determine whether, and to what extent, their construction meets the environmental regulations. The creation of a dam, in addition to the consequences on the environment, affects the lives and activities of people, especially in local communities.

“A space that will be flooded will cause people to leave their homes, while the memories of the people associated with the space are also important. A community that sees their village flooded loses its collective memory”
-Alexis Katsaros, Project Development Manager, MedINA

Currently, 20 organizations in 14 countries are collaborating to monitor the migration route of Asproparis, this bird species, whose population was once great but has dropped dramatically in the last 40 years. These birds travel across borders, so transnational cooperation is important for their protection, says environmentalist Victoria S. Mullen.

In Greece, the biggest part of the Aoos river flows within the boundaries of the Nothern Pindos National Park and crosses 10 NATURA 2000 areas. The 20km of the river from the bridge of Konitsa to the Greek-Albanian border is not protected at the moment. There is currently Greek-Albanian cooperation, through private civil societies’ initiatives aimed to foster transnational cooperation for the protection of the river, says Alexandra Pappa, a project manager of MedINA.

MedINA is participating in the project “Saving Europe’s last free-flowing river: Aoos/Vjosa”, with the aim of preventing the construction of hydropower plants that will have dramatic impacts on the entire ecosystem of the river, affecting the rich natural and cultural heritage of the area. Another goal of the project is to promote the designation of the Aoos/Vjosa River as a transboundary protected area and to create the first transnational wild river park in Europe