Residents of Selenica in support of the Vjosa National Park idea

In the framework of the “Saving the blue heart of Europe” campaign, EcoAlbania organized the last meeting of the tour of meetings with the community of the Vjosa valley. In Selenica, about 80 residents, representatives of civil society, the environmental inspectorate, Vlora, national and international media participated. This meeting, held on March 13, 2013, is part of a series of meetings that have been held throughout the valley and aims to inform the various interest groups within the local community and beyond on the values that the Vjosa River and its watershed carry as well as the threats that threaten him.

After the welcome speech by the representative of the Selenica Municipality, Mr. Margariti, the attendees were introduced to the latest data of studies on biodiversity, stopping at some special species as well as the energy projects planned and completed along the Vjosa and its tributaries. The participants were also introduced to the campaign “Saving the blue heart of Europe”, undertaken by EcoAlbania and international partners Riverwatch and Euronatur to protect this natural asset. The proposed alternative is the Vjosa National Park, as a good development opportunity for the local community along the Vjosa valley. Urlich Einchelmann, the campaign coordinator, emphasizes the importance of Europe’s only wild river.

During the meeting in Selenice. B. Guri/ EcoAlbania

After learning about the values and threats to their river, the attendees showed interest and expressed their willingness to support the idea of a National Park. Many of them took the floor and supported our initiative to protect Vjosa. Their discussions were very emotional and came from the heart. “We don’t have the opportunity to take the children to the beach and Vjosa was the best option. However, they have damaged the river by eroding it for inertness and now we are afraid to take the children as there have been cases where many children have drowned. We are ready to support you in your initiative to declare Vjosa a National Park”, says Valbona Rrapaj, a teacher at the 9-year-old Selenicë school.

Petrit Isufi, history-geography teacher in this area says: “In this area there used to be a big forest where we used to organize picnics and various activities, but now the forest has been cut down. Please give us back those lungs that Vjosa used to have”.

Carried away by the enthusiasm created and by the desire to have their say, they raised their voices and protested for a few minutes, for Vjosa National Park. Their support makes us more determined to fulfill our mission to the end.

By: Earta Nuna/ EcoAlbania

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