National and International Scientists send an open letter for the conservation of the Vjosa Delta

++International Symposium for the Vjosa Delta gathers 60 experts for 2 days in Vlora++

Vlora, October 27-28, 2023. Representatives of academic institutions, decision-makers and environmental organizations gathered at the International Scientific Symposium dedicated to the Vjosa Delta. The experts presented scientific data on the values of biodiversity and sedimentology of the Vjosa Delta, with the aim of raising the awareness of decision makers on the importance of preserving this important part of the Vjosa River – recently declared a National Park of the Wild River.

The experts signed an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister, responsible institutions and interested parties, where they presented 3 main sugestions:

  • Facilitate for an interdisciplinary study of Vjosa Delta focused on its conservation and sustainable management, based on scientific evidence.
  • The whole Vjosa Delta must be preserved, left untouched by large-scale tourism; instead, it should wisely be used for nature-based tourism projects.
  • It is now the right moment that the Pishe Poro – Narta Protected Landscape to be declared National Park (IUCN category II) as an indivisible part of Vjosa Wild River National Park.

Directed and organized by the Department of Biology of the University of Tirana, the two-day event gathered 60 participants, among them many experts from the academic world who have been engaged in the campaign for the protection of Vjosa for almost 10 years. The symposium was supported and co-organized by experts from the Polytechnic, Agricultural and POLIS Universities, and foreign experts from the Universities of Salento and Palermo, Italy, Vienna and FLUVIUS, Austria, from the Slovenian Academy of Sciences, from the University of Thrace, Greece, etc. The team of environmental organizations of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign was one of the co-organizers as well, as one of the stakeholders to raise awareness on the values of the Vjosa Delta.

Prof. Aleko Miho, from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Tirana, one of the main figures of the group of scientists for Vjosa, emphasizes “We always have the conviction that all scientific findings, efforts or recommendations of experts are invalid if decision-making, and all the responsible institutions in Tirana and the local ones do not come to listen, why not and express their opinions. For this, our invitation has been repeatedly sent to all responsible government institutions, even to some well-known colleagues who today represent the Environment Committee in the Parliament of Albania, and to those who have leadership positions in other government institutions.”

The symposium was followed by a field visit to the Narta lagoon, where participating experts had the opportunity to share their experiences and views with international experts. Among other things, they also stopped some of the wintering birds in the Narta lagoon, among them the beautiful flamingos in their habitat, which is already endangered.

Olsi Nika, Executive Director of EcoAlbania, said: “The Vjosa Delta is a very important ecosystem, part of the Vjosa Valley, which is the habitat of many endangered and endemic species. Undisturbed natural processes are rare in Europe and the Vjosa Delta stands out as one of the most important and least threatened deltas in the entire Mediterranean, an added value for nature conservation in our country. As such, it should enjoy maximum protection.