17 officials of the Cumbrian River Restoration Partnerships Programme visit the Vjosa

September 13, 2023. Tepelena.
On this sunny morning at the Vjosa Research Center, we were honoured to welcome  17 officials of the Cumbrian River Restoration Partnerships Programme. The programme aims to restore the natural river processes in the Lake District National Park in the northwest of England, mainly in the rivers Kent, Derwent and Eden. The team behind the Vjosa Wild River National Park in fact has been in friendly rivalry with the Cumbrians, as both applied for the European River Prize 2022. The English initiative came out on top and won the trophy for improving over 100 km of river stretches and restoring 150 ha of flood plains, for which we want to sincerely congratulate them. Their watercourses had suffered from historical mismanagement which has led to degradation and loss of biodiversity. On the other hand, the Vjosa and its tributaries exhibit the pristineness and free-flowing dynamics that the Cumbrians want to re-establish for their rivers. So they directly reinvested the 2022 prize money to experience Europe’s last wild river and to exchange river conservation know-how with EcoAlbania’s representative Olsi Nika.

Experiences on how to deal with crucial topics such as litter management, riverbed gravel mining, and hydropower damming were discussed which held valuable lessons for both sides. The guests were especially impressed by the diverse campaigning and the efforts of the residents in the Vjosa valley which express the collective will to develop the area sustainably.

Following this insightful exchange, Olsi Nika showed them around the Research Center and its laboratories. After a group picture, we had to say farewell as our friends ventured on downstream to explore the beautifully meandering watercourse of the Vjosa. We want to say thank you to our fellow environmentalists for sharing your expertise!