228 international scientists defend Vjosa

228 scientists from different countries of the world have joined the effort of Albanian activists and researchers to protect the Vjosa river, while they sent their official request for a 3-year moratorium to Prime Minister Rama on Wednesday.

Protest against the construction of hydropower plants in Vjosa. (c) I. Dervish/BIRN

Hundreds of international scientists have joined the initiative of activists who ask the Albanian government for a moratorium on HPPs on the Vjosë river.

228 scientists from countries such as Austria, Germany, the United States, Italy, Sri Lanka, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, etc. signed the memorandum of scientists and environmentalists, which was sent to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Wednesday.

They joined the previous June 2016 list of 50 Albanian researchers.

Known as the friends of Vjosa, the main demands of about 300 scientists and environmentalists are a 3-year moratorium on the construction of hydropower plants on the Vjosa River and its tributaries; carrying out an environmental impact assessment during the 3-year period; as well as a systematic research and detailed assessment of the Vjosa river by Albanian and foreign scientists.

The signatories of the memorandum pledged to Prime Minister Rama in their letter to provide funds for the 3-year interdisciplinary research program.

“The Vjosa watershed – in its state of little anthropogenic influence – can serve as a large-scale natural refuge and as a laboratory of great importance for the whole of Europe.”

“Due to undisturbed river continuity, sediment transport and river morpho-dynamics, as well as its special biodiversity, Vjosa constitutes an international model system, special for the complex morphological and biological dynamics of river corridors, for studies that help to co-calibrate the assessment of interventions in rivers, and can serve as an international benchmark for research on climate change”, it was written in the memorandum distributed by RiverWatch, EuroNatur and EcoAlbania.

The scientists argued that the moratorium would allow environmental impact studies to be carried out, comprehensive programs to be drawn up in Vjosa and EU funding opportunities for sustainable development of the region to be explored.

The Friends of Vjosa also suggested the launch of an open discussion process involving all key local representatives and the sustainable use of the Vjosa ecosystem for the benefit of the residents.

Vjosa is the last wild river of Europe. Hundreds of environmental activists have joined during 2016 various awareness campaigns for the preservation of the Vjosa by creating awareness documentaries and joining forces in a several-day cruise on the Balkan rivers.

The problem of the Vjosa River is also being discussed in the European Parliament, which has criticized the Albanian government’s decision to build a dam in the Vjosa and demanded the return of the Vjosa to the National Park.

You can find the article prepared by Ivana Dervishi / BIRN published on Reporter.al (in Albanian) and the chronicle published on Tv Klan (in Albanian)

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