“Save the blue heart of Europe”

The campaign “Save the blue heart of Europe” launched by the international NGOs Riverwatch and Euronatur will now be implemented in Albania by the partner organization EcoAlbania. The aim of the campaign is to protect the rivers of great natural potential that stretch across South-Eastern Europe from being destroyed through the uncontrolled development of hydropower projects. The campaign focuses mainly on the preservation of the rivers of the Balkans, among which the Vjosa river is a part.


The upper course of the Vjosa River, the Gryka e Këlcyra. (c) A. Guri

Vjosa is one of the last, “wild” rivers of Europe. In the first 80 km of its course, in the Greek part the river is called Aoόs, while upon entering the Albanian territory it changes its name and is called Vjosë. In its course of over 270 km, the Vjosa flows naturally undisturbed, characterized by beautiful canyons, rapids, islands and bends that create wonderful meanders. In some areas the river bed reaches a width of more than 2 km. Together with its tributaries, Vjosa offers a dynamic, almost natural ecosystem. This unique ecosystem on the continent, although unknown, represents a true European natural heritage.

Eight hydropower projects are planned in the Vjosa River and many more in its tributaries. The construction of these dams or even one of them would irreversibly destroy this entire river ecosystem of incomparable value. Ulrich Eichelmann, coordinator of the Balkan Rivers Campaign “Saving the Blue Heart of Europe” from the Riverwatch organization says: “For many Albanians, the Vjosa may seem just an ordinary river, but from an international perspective, the Vjosa is something unique. Even some world-renowned freshwater experts still have no idea that such a river exists in Europe. This is like discovering a species that was thought to be extinct until now.”

By: Besjana Guri/ EcoAlbania


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