The Vjosa (the Aoos in Greece) river is the most geomorphologically intact large river catchment in Europe, outside Russia. Protection of its biodiversity and natural processes is vital not just for the region but for the world.
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In 2018 the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign run by a coallition of NGOs from across Europe temporarily halted dam construction on the Vjosa.
In September 2020 Albanian PM Edi Rama tweeted that the Vjosa would remain dam free and in Dec 2020 some protected areas on the Vjosa (primarily the Vjosa-Narta protected area) were extended.
- The protected areas do not appear to cover the whole river catchment, with particular concern around Poçemi where a dam was previously planned.
- The protected areas only reach IUCN category VI and the Albanian Strategic Investment Law 2016 permits large industrial developments in areas with this level of protection.
As a result campaigners have called for the creation of the Vjosa River National Park. This would be an IUCN Category II national park (a much stricter designation than national parks in the UK) and therefore protected under Albanian law from most development, including hydropower dams.
This method of river protection is also being explored in other parts of the world such as the Upper Salween (Nu) river in China and its change in management from hydropower development to a river-based national park.
We are asking for your help to support the calls for a Vjosa River National Park and to preserve this vitally important river for everyone's future.
On the 25th April Albania will elect a new government, 96% of Albanians have stated they would support such a Vjosa River National Park so we want this to be key election issue.
Albania is currently applying for EU accession, the EU has already expressed support for the protection of the Vjosa, we want the EU to support the proposal for the Vjosa River National Park as part of this process.
Please contact the EU and Albanian politicians on social media using #VJOSANATIONALPARKNOW and show them this issue is important to Albania, to Europe, and to you. You can use the images below (from the awesome Balkan River Defence). If you live in the EU please include your own MEP in the tags.
On Facebook please tag @edirama.al @lulzimbasha.al @KryemadhiMonika
or click share on our post below.
On Twitter please tag @ediramaal
@monikakryemadhi @vonderleyen @TimmermansEU @VSinkevicius @isabel_mep
or click retweet on our post below.
On Instagram please tag @ediramaal
@lulzimbasha @monika.kryemadhi @isabelsantosps @ursulavonderleyen @frans__timmermans @virginijus_sinkevicius
you could also repost our post below, or share to your stories and insert the tags above.
Who are we targeting?
Edi Rama - Prime Minister of Albania
Edi Rama is the current Albanian Prime Minister he promised that the Vjosa would remain dam-free in 2020 but so far his actions have not supported this. Lulzim Basha and Monika Kryemadhi are his main opponents in the April 2021 elections. 96% of Albanians support a Vjosa National Park so this should be a key election issue.
Ursula von der Leyen - President of the European Commission
She is mixed on environmental policies, supports the Green Deal that contains biodiversity targets but also supports the European Union–Mercosur free trade agreement which has been criticized for risking increased Amazon deforestation. The key decision-maker in the EU.
Isabel Santos – MEP, Rapporteur for Albanian
Key actor in Albania’s EU accession. She produced the draft report supporting Albania’s EU integration which raised direct concerns around hydropower and protected areas.
Frans Timmermans – Vice President of the European Commission
Climate Commissioner and the leading proponent of the European Green Deal, vocally critical of EU member states that break European environmental law.
Virginijus Sinkevičius - Environment, Oceans and Fisheries
An EU politician who has spoken up for increased protected areas and enhanced biodiversity targets during his time as Environment, Oceans and Fisheries commissioner.
For a huge amount of peer-reviewed information on how hydropower development is destroying the rivers of the Balkans click here: