The role of citizens in the effective protection of the Aoos river basin

The role of citizens in the effective protection of the Aoos river basin

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Joint Press Release of the Municipality of Konitsa and MedINA

The public event entitled “Aoos – The role of citizens in its effective protection”, co-organised by MedINA and the Municipality of Konitsa, was successfully held on Thursday 29 February in the venue of Konitsa’s Town Hall.

The event was accompanied by presentations by guest speakers who raised concerns, made proposals for the effective protection and management of the Aoos River and its surroundings, shared their experiences and encouraged the participation of citizens in issues related to the management and protection of the river. They highlighted the challenges that the Aoos and its tributaries have faced and continue to face, the battles that have been fought to protect it and the gaps that still exist in its protection against existing pressures and future threats.

Among the speakers were Ioannis Papadimitriou, lawyer specialising in environmental issues, who highlighted the legal tools available to citizens and institutions to address environmental challenges; local active citizens, such as Nikos Kyritsis and Eleni Papamichael; and representatives of local associations and movements, such as Pantazis Toufidis (Ioannina Fishing Club & ASTRAIOS) and MedINA partners Dimitris Papageorgiou, coordinator of local actions for Aoos, and Theodora Lanara, coordinator of the educational project ‘Let it flow!’. The President of Konitsa’s Municipal Council, Vassilis Spanos, also addressed the audience on behalf of the Mayor of Konitsa, Andreas Papaspyrou.

The event focused on informing and raising public awareness, inviting citizens to become actively involved in the protection of the Aoos River and its tributaries, and culminating in a constructive discussion with all participants, during which comments, interesting ideas and questions were heard.

Some of the issues that seemed to concern the citizens of Konitsa and the wider region were the pollution of the waters of the Aoos basin, the degradation of the river’s ecosystem due to illegal fishing and water management practices, the development of small hydropower plants in Sarantaporos, Aoos, Voidomatis and their streams, and the permitted or non-permitted activities within the protected areas. Many agreed that there is a disconnection between the local communities and these issues and supported the need to create a local action group for Aoos that would take initiatives in collaboration with other collectives and institutions to address situations that degrade its integrity.

MedINA and the Municipality of Konitsa thank all participants and citizens who contributed to the success of the event and will continue to support the efforts of active citizens for the conservation and protection of the Aoos.

The event was organised in the framework of the Ri-Connect project, implemented by MedINA with the support of the Prespa Ohrid Nature Trust (PONT). The Ri-Connect project aims to preserve the free flow of the river and its tributaries as a transboundary ecological corridor and development resource for local communities.