On a continent where most rivers are dammed, the Vjosa is a rare species. Fast, free flowing and untroubled by pollution, it runs unimpeded for 170 miles across Albania to the Adriatic Sea. They call it Europe’s ‘last wild river’.
This week the Albanian government vowed to keep it that way. On Monday, it committed to protecting the Vjosa and its tributaries by creating Europe’s first wild river national park. River Watch and other campaign groups have been calling for such a designation for years.
The move should safeguard the river and its tributaries from the kind of development many feared would impact this eden. Dams have previously been mooted for the region.
“Albania’s Vjosa is nature’s unrelenting force, the only survivor of the wild rivers of our continent,” said Albanian prime minister Edi Rama. “Under the protective cloak of the national park, Vjosa will stay intact for Albania, for Europe, for the planet we want for our children’s children.”
Help protecting the river will come from an unlikely source: the outdoor clothing company, Patagonia, has agreed to assist in creating the national park.
Image: Nicolas Jehly
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