Balkan River Vjosa Receives National Park Status
Will Ross, March 16, 2023
On March 15th 2023, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Minister of Environment and Tourism Mirela Kumbaro officially declared the River Vjosa a Wild River National Park in a ceremony held in Tepelena. This landmark decision means that the River Vjosa, which stretches over 400 kilometers from the Greek border to the Adriatic Sea, and its free-flowing tributaries, will now receive the highest level of protection, making it the first Wild River National Park in Europe.
For over a decade, conservationists and river activists, including EuroNatur, Riverwatch, and EcoAlbania, have been working tirelessly to preserve the River Vjosa, which is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. Their efforts included court hearings, petitions, and discussions with the government and local communities. Finally, after much hard work and dedication, this milestone has been achieved.
The declaration of the River Vjosa as a Wild River National Park sets a new standard in nature conservation, as an entire river system is protected rather than just individual sections of a river. This approach to conservation is a model that can be applied to other rivers in Europe, such as the Moraca in Montenegro and the Rivers Neretva and Una in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The hope is that the River Vjosa will not be the only Wild River National Park in Europe, but that other rivers will follow its example.
The River Vjosa is a unique eco-system, and the conservation of its free-flowing tributaries and river delta is crucial. The fight to protect the river is not over, and efforts will continue to ensure that the entirety of the Vjosa’s eco-system is preserved for future generations. The River Vjosa’s Wild River National Park status is a significant victory for conservationists, and it sends an important message to the rest of Europe about the importance of protecting our rivers and the environment.
For more information on Wild River National Park, visit parkukombetarvjosa.al
Header image: (c) Konsek Mittel