Albania’s ‘wild river’ granted national park status

Tepelenë (HRNW) – Environmental campaigners scored a rare victory in Albania on Wednesday after authorities announced the creation of a national park to protect the Vjosa River, one of Europe’s largest undammed waterways.

For years, activists lobbied to save what they call Europe’s last major “wild river” — one whose course is unaltered by industry or dams — recruiting A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio to their cause.

Spanning more than 400 kilometres (248 miles), the Vjosa and its tributaries will now enjoy the highest level of protection.

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama praised the project.

“It is a transformational moment for the whole area and also for the future of communities around it, for the whole country,” Rama told AFP.

Activists agreed, saying the national park breaks new ground in the world of conservation.

“It establishes, for the first time, a conservation concept where an entire river system is protected and not just individual sections of a river,” said Ulrich Eichelmann, head of the Austria-based advocacy organisation RiverWatch.