“Day of Vjosa” – a colorful celebration with the participation of the entire community of the Vjosa valley was held on June 6, 2015 for the first time by EcoAlbania in Tirana, with the aim of revealing the values of the valley and protecting the last wild river of Europe. Throughout this festive day, the attendees were accompanied by the spirit of Vjosa, starting with historical information, issues, music, and up to the traditional products of the area of Përmet, Tepelena, Gjirokastra and Selenica.
How did we get here? For a long time, we have launched a big campaign “Saving the blue heart of Europe” in cooperation with the international NGOs Riverwatch and Euronatur with the aim of protecting rivers with great natural potential in South-Eastern Europe, from the uncontrolled construction of projects for hydro- energetic. In this framework, EcoAlbania has started a tour of awareness meetings along the entire Vjosa valley. During this time, intensive informative and awareness-raising meetings were held, starting from Çarshova to Selenica, and ending precisely with the “Vjosa Day” in Tirana.
“As the initiators and supporters of this entire campaign in Albania, we feel very satisfied that a part of the Vjosa valley could pass through the Center of the Capital, even for a few hours. We have the conviction and hope that this will be able to influence the decision-makers more closely, but not only … it will further encourage all interested parties to stop and give up the construction of dams on the Vjoše River, as well as to give up concreting, tunneling and environmental damage that is being done today on all its branches” said Prof. Dr. Aleko Miho, Chairman of EcoAlbania.
In her welcoming speech, the deputy Ms. Arta Dade, a friend of Vjosa, said: “Like every citizen whose life is connected with Vjosa, I also wish that we have Vjosa as nature has given us, to have it clean and to be in the function of the entire population that lives along its shores”.
To watch the short film “Dita e Vjosa” you can click here
I appreciate the Prime Minister’s statement on declaring the Vjosa Valley a National Park. This is an important decision because the premises are created for making many unfair decisions that have gone not in the interest of Albanians, not in the interest of the Albanian economy, of the development of tourism that compromise the wealth and values of this country” , said Mr. Besnik Bare, MP.
Why did we choose Vjosa?
Did you know that the Vjosa is one of Europe’s last wild rivers? The Vjosa is among the rare rivers in Europe that is uninterrupted by dams from its source to its mouth in the sea. For this reason, it is rightfully considered a wild river and today it is requested to be protected as such by declaring it a National River Park.
In its course it is characterized by wonderful canyons, islands, bends and extraordinary natural breaks, giving us a very dynamic, almost natural ecosystem, a unique ecosystem that represents a true European natural heritage. Although Vjosa is one of the least studied rivers in Europe, it is characterized by exceptional biodiversity values. Vjosa, in addition to being a natural asset, has great social and economic values. It plays a vital role for the inhabitants who live near its shores, for agricultural and livestock activities. The quantity and variety of fish affect the fishing area. Tourism is also developing from year to year through activities such as mountain climbing, mountaineering, rafting, canoeing, etc.
Despite all these values, the biggest threat to the Vjosa river is precisely the construction of HPPs. Along the Vjosa river, 8 dams are planned to be built in the Albanian part, while in the entire Vjosa basin there are a total of 31 dams. “We must all try to protect Vjosa, not to cut his “veins”, to preserve our national wealth. Development does not mean destruction, development is sustainable development for the whole society and not the enrichment of a few small groups” said Mrs. Diana Çuli, writer and friend of Vjosa.
Statement for the defense of Vjosa
The inhabitants of the Vjosa valley and all of Albania are in defense of the Vjosa river. In addition to the beautiful lawns, dense forests that support agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry and ecotourism, residents also use the waters of Vjosa as drinking water.
Albanian citizens have all together supported and supported its protection and preservation by signing the Declaration for the protection of the Vjosa River.
A very large number of people have signed this declaration that strongly opposes the hydropower projects and calls for the declaration of Vjosa as a National Park. Through this statement, the citizens raise their voice and appeal to the Prime Minister of the country to stop these destructive projects.
Even today, many citizens present had the opportunity to sign this statement to join all the citizens who seek the protection of Vjosa. The first statement was signed by non-profit environmental organizations that support the cause for the protection of Vjosa and its declaration as a National Park.
By Iva Mera and Besjana Guri/ EcoAlbania