Aoos/Vjosa receives international recognition

Aoos/Vjosa receives international recognition

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Lately, especially after the declaration of 409 km of the Vjosa and its tributaries as a National Park by the Albanian Government, the Aoos has been receiving international recognition through its presentation in numerous international media.

The Guardian newspaper published two extensive reports in March on the historic moment of the declaration of Europe’s first wild river national park, the Vjosa Park Kombetar, marking a new era for inland water conservation in Europe. According to the reports, the coalition’s environmental organisations, EcoAlbania, Riverwatch, EuroNatur and MedINA, stress that more bold decisions need to be taken in this direction, in order to give institutional protection to both the river delta in Albania and its sources in Greece, especially the part of the river basin that remains unprotected to date, leaving a total of 70 kilometres of flow exposed to the great threat of small hydroelectric dams.

The issue was also covered by the Italian media Corriere, the German media Spiegel, Die Zeit, Sueddeutsche, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung & ORF and the French media RTS and Reporterre.

Sarantaporos river © A. Pappa/MedINA.

In the UK’s New Scientist magazine publications, Alexandra Pappa, MedINA’s Freshwater Programme Manager, said: “There are plans for a number of small hydropower projects on the Greek side of the border. Four are already operating on tributaries of the Aoos, and forty-five more are being promoted. If built, they would alter the free flow and character of the Aoos/Vjosa“. To the Albanian Citizens channel, Alexandra Pappa stressed that the Greek government has promised to designate the part of the Aoos river basin, which is not protected, as a “Protected Natural Formation”, a low category of protection, but which can stop the construction of hydroelectric dams in the area. However, since this did not take place before the 2023 national elections, it will be very difficult to be realized after the elections, mainly due to the fact that permits for these projects are being issued in parallel, thus increasing the chances of legal certainty issues for investors when and if such a decision becomes a reality. “If dams are built on the Greek side of the border, this will also have an impact on Albania, and vice versa. If the dams had been built in Kalivaç or Poçem in Albania, Aoos in Greece would have been affected. It is a single ecosystem from its source to its estuary“.