MedINA celebrates this year’s World Environment Day with George Lialios’ report on the protection of the Aoos, Europe’s freest river, in ‘Kathimerini’ in-print newspaper.
The Aoos river runs along the border area between Greece and Albania and is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe, flowing freely for over 270 kilometres, with the exception of the Aoos Springs Dam. What makes this river truly special on an international level is the fact that almost all of its tributaries are free-flowing, creating a unique network of rivers and streams full of life.
Alexandra Pappa, coordinator of the project ‘Aoos/Vjosa: Saving Europe’s last free-flowing river’ on behalf of MedINA spoke to G. Lialios about the international alliance between Greece and Albania, that aims to protect and promote the transboundary river Aoos/Vjosa: “A transnational alliance was formed and all together we initiated actions with the vision of creating a transboundary protected area with the river at its heart. Our effort coincided with the debate across Europe on the objectives of the European Biodiversity Strategy, which includes the restoration of 25,000 km of rivers within the next decade from artificial barriers. In most countries they are looking for ways to restore what Greece and Albania have untouched, almost pristine, in their hands.”.
The report also records the views of Kiki Kati, Head of the Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory at the University of Ioannina, on the destructive consequences of the numerous small hydroelectric projects planned in the Aoos river basin, and of biologist Charitakis Papaioannou, researcher at the same laboratory and member of the team that prepared the first special environmental study for the area of Grammos – Konitsa – Pogoni, of Konstantinos Triantis, Forester of Konitsa, Vassilis Gorgolis, Vice-Regional Governor of Epirus for environmental issues, Michalis Vakkas, Director of the management unit of the Northern Pindos National Park, the Mayors of Zagori and Konitsa, George Soukouvelos and Nikos Exarchou, Camilo Nollas from the Vovousa Festival, Nikos Kyritsis of No Limits GR and Thymios Kyrtzoglou, owner of the ‘Gefiri’ hotel in Konitsa.