Freshwater ecosystems are the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. In Europe they are collapsing faster than any other type of natural habitat. One of the dramatic consequences of this collapse is that migratory freshwater fish populations have been reduced by 93%. It is also estimated that in the 1.2 million km of European rivers, we encounter more than 1 million obstacles.
For this year’s World Environment Day, the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA) and Pindos Perivallontiki organized, in collaboration with Vovousa Festival and the initiative Protect Aoos “Citizens’ Movement for the Protection of Aoos River”, a public awareness raising action on the need to protect and properly manage the unique river Aoos/Vjosa, one of Europe’s last free-flowing rivers.
On Saturday, June 5th 2021, members of the environmental organizations and volunteers arrived in Monastiraki Square of Athens and unfurled cloth sails with the message “PROTECT AOOS/VJOSA RIVER NOW #VjosaNationalParkNow” on the paved floor over the riverbed of Iridanos and in front of the Acropolis.
On the same day, young and adult friends sent their supportive messages in the form of photos taken in front of various historical monuments around Attica.
MedINA and Pindos Perivallontiki are the main Greek partners of the cross-border project ‘Saving Europe’s last free-flowing river: Vjosa / Aoos’, which is part of the European ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’ campaign and is aimed to protecting the Aoos/Vjosa river from the looming construction of hydropower dams or any kind of harmful intervention, maintaining its good condition and identity, promoting it as a best practice example of free-flowing rivers for Europe and integrating its entire river basin under protection status.
The European Commission is targeting towards the same goals through the European Strategy for Biodiversity to 2030 as part of the European Green Deal. The European Biodiversity Strategy aims to free up at least 25,000 km of European rivers by 2030 by resolving or removing any barriers.
Information about the action
The action is part of the #VjosaNationalParkNow campaign, implemented in collaboration with the other members of the river protection alliance: EcoAlbania from Albania and the international organizations IUCN, EuroNatur, RiverWatch and Tour du Valat.
The action in Athens follows a series of similar actions that took place in Tirana, Paris, Brussels and Berlin, where the message #VjosaNationalParkNow was spread in front of famous city monuments.