Save the Blue Heart of Europe – Albania
Size (ha):670 000
Type of protection:Working on establishing a trans-boundary National Park
- Keystone species present: Otter, vultures, wolf, ell, trout
- Description: EcoAlbania works to strengthen the friendly coexistence of man and nature in Albania. The main goals of the project "Save the Blue Heart of Europe - Albania" are the protection of the natural ecosystems and their ecological interactions through the protection of wildlife and their habitats and helping with the recovery of the natural environment.
- Aim: The project and the entire campaign aims to save the unique Balkan rivers by preserving the most valuable course and extension these rivers have regarding their ecology and biodiversity. Saving the Blue Heart of Europe – Albania works on preservation for the benefit of nature, biodiversity, and people for whom these rivers have a deep symbolic and cultural value. The project is planned to be finalized by 2020 until when the following actions are planned; establishing the Vjosa transboundary National Park, banning the projects of Hydro Power Plants in Vjosa river, developing a strategy for sustainable development of the Vjosa Valley through eco-tourism and lastly closing geo-morphological and biodiversity knowledge gaps on the Vjosa river through completing the full cycle of the studies on the river.
- Vision: Establishing the transboundary national park of Vjosa river from Greece to Albania and developing a plan for the sustainable socio-economic development of the river, available for future generations.
- Accomplished in 10 years from now: The projects works on the ban of the Hydro Power Plant (HPP) projects planned for Vjosa river (by involving Vjosa as a No-Go zone for HPP projects) and wants to establish transboundary Vjosa National Park. In addition, geo-morphological and biodiversity full cycle studies on the river will close the knowledge gaps on the Vjosa river. Lastly, the project develops a strategy for the sustainable development of the Vjosa valley through eco-tourism and supports the local communities.
- Uniqueness: The uniqueness of this project lies in the fact that Vjosa is considered to be the Last Biggest Wild River in Europe and saving is a must and if done properly is definitely a victory to preservation of nature and wilderness in Europe.
- Results so far: So far project won the legal battle against government in the Administrative Court of First Instance, Tirana. The court decided in favour of the local community and NGOs by local the construction of Poçemi HPP. Thanks to EcoAlbania and other partners’ persistent work with reports, informing and lobbying, a FFM from Bern Convention was carried out in Vjosa river in order to investigate to which extent plans for hydropower development are jeopardizing the objectives of the Bern Convention.
- Flagship species: Other (please, specify), Otter, Vulture, Wolf
- Other characteristics: Community involved, Education, Research
- Inspirational value: Working with the local community to inform/make them aware of the need to protect the river wilderness is difficult but the most important thing in an environmental campaign. Protecting the wild nature (such as valuable river Vjosa, the last biggest wild river remained) is not something that could be done only by the activists of an NGO and the local communities: it requests efforts from larger communities like artists, scientists, politicians, journalists, international communities and NGOs and similar actors willing to offer their expertise and raise their voice on the responsibility that everyone should have for wild nature.
- Experience you would like to share: Among other, EcoAlbania worked so far in preserving wilderness of the river with different stakeholders. The project members are eager to share experience and know-how in lobbying to the international institutions, working and communicating with various local communities and engaging in legal and civic matters.
- Experience you would like to gain: Anything that would further help us in our campaign such as: new expertise and practices on topics relating to rewilding offered by ERN members.