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Vjosa - The Largest Wild River of Europe is now in Danger

albania 29 March, 2021 11:43HRS


The Vjosa is the only natural wild river which is vastly left untouched by human made tech among the rivers of the entire European region. Unlike other major rivers which flow in Europe, Vjosa doesn’t have large Hydroelectric power plants or any such damns on it.

However, the only human made technology it is influenced by is an artificial man-made lake with a Hydro power dam that was built in the year of 1987.

The Vjosa River originates from Pindus mountain ranges in the north-western region of Greece and flow all the way to the Adriatic Sea in South-western Albania and end there. Vjosa has a total of 23 tributaries and it is fed more water through its tributaries like the Sarantaporos Tributary, the Drino Tributary, the Voidomatis tributary and the Shushice tributary.

The Vjosa River is also called Aoos which is pronounced as “Aous” in Greek language, The River Vjosa is approximately 272 kilometers long, its length from its source in Greece to Albanian border is about 80 Kilometers in length; As it enters Albania and flows all the way into Adriatic sea, it has a length of some 192 Kilometers.

This River has a high potential as it has many ideal locations for installing and constructing Hydropower plants and because of this many corporate companies and government organizations saw a huge potential in this river and started submitting proposals for Hydroelectric dam projects which they would like to have constructed on Aoos and its tributaries as well.

As in recent years, hundreds of such project proposals got approval from the government but as the news got out, the builders and organizations who wanted to construct these structure faced issues and oppositions by multiple International Nature conservation organizations from the Europe and also United States.

The Vjosa National Park got approvals from over twenty Environment Conservation groups in the year 2020 and the plans to create dams on Vjosa and its tributaries were barred. This action was influenced and supported by Environmental groups such as Wetlands International Europe, The Nature Conservancy, WWF Adria, International Rivers, Riverwatch and EuroNatur.

A few months after this, the Prime minister of Albania Edi Rama stated that now A Wild River National Park will be designated around a 45,000 Hectares of land area which will increase protection for wildlife in this region and stop any man-made construction over rivers which flow through this secured region.

This action will not only protect the forests and wildlife but also over 300 Kilometers of Rivers and Tributaries of this region including Vjosa.

The proposed plans for Vjosa Wild River National Park will meet the IUCN standards, The I.U.C.N. stands for International Union for Conservation of Nature. The projected plans will encompass the Vjosa river and all flowing water bodies in this region.

Ryan Gellert, the CEO of Patagonia said that The Grassroots activism which was supported by strong legal actions was how this historic decision was put on the table to make into a reality, It is now time for the Officials of the Government of Albania to take action and make this plan into a reality. These politicians will be doing something unique and their actions will protect this one and only pristine river system forever.


Ulrich Eichelmann, the CEO of International Environment Conservation group called Riverwatch said that in the Europe the Vjosa River has miraculously survived many decades of destruction and human expansion of the continent it flows in and this is a great gift to all humankind. And the implementation of this Wild River National Park will be a great achievement for environment and nature conservation movements in Europe. This will make a major contribution to the Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union and also to the Green Deal of the EU. Conservation of this river is not only responsibility of Albania and its people but it is also the responsibility of whole Europe.


Besjana Guri, a communications officer at EcoAlbania said that by supporting and taking actions to secure the future for Vjosa Wild River National Park we are not only protecting our country Albania but also its future and culture. Our River Vjosa is precious and a unique river in all of Europe and we must be proud to have it in our country.

The Governmet officials of Albanian government announced the plans to create the Vjosa (Aoös) Wild River National Park that will increase the protection of the Vjosa (Aoos) River and its tributaries. This was the direct result of the work and movements propelled by International Nature conservation groups, Many Scientists, Artists and Environment Activists who continued to raise voice and take action for this cause for around ten years already.

This Wild River National park will host, preserve and protect more than thousand wildlife species including animals, birds, fishes, plants and insects. The approximate number of species this National Park will protect is said to be more than 1100 including threatened and endangered wildlife species of this region.

As per the recent polls and observations, Majority of people in Albania are supporting the act to create Vjosa Wild River National Park as fast as possible, around 94% of people are in favor and remaining 6% are against it either because lack of understanding for nature conservation or direct benefits by the construction of these projects.

The National Elections in Albania are set to be on April 25, 2021 and there is a mounting pressure from all sides on the candidates to secure this project of Vjosa Wild River National Park as groups like EcoAlbania, EuroNatur and Riverwatch are increasing awareness for the cause among the public and politicians.

Leonardo DiCaprio, the very famous Hollywood celebrity from the movies like Titanic and Inception. Also called support for this cause by tweeting and posting about same on multiple social media platforms. He asked the politicans of Albania to preserve and protect the River Vjosa from the possible future constructions of Hydroelectric plants and dams so referred as H.P.P. which stands for Hydro Power Plants. In the year 2019 Leonardo also supported the citizens in protest to stop construction of dam projects.

Leonardo DiCaprio shared his social media posts to increase awareness over this cause and secure this river and its tributaries which is among the very few natural wild rivers in the European continent, Vjosa. He is involved in supporting attempts of people and organizations to protect this river from constructions of new Hydro Power Plants.

The actor also wrote to PM Edi Rama and asking to make Vjosa River a secure national park, Leonardo DiCaprio added:

“The action of creating Vjosa wild river national park will give it good protection and this act will be a good achievement for people of Albania and Europe as well, this park will become a model for the Strategy of Biodiversity in the Green Agreement framework. “

On the Internet there is a documentary about this cause called as “Vjosa Forever” which is free to watch for all people.

FORTH News also has a documentary project under planning for same cause which will be released by year 2022.

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