Europe’s first wild river national park was announced last Wednesday in Albania, while urbanisation continues to be planned near the extremely valuable lagoons and bird sanctuaries of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park region. Hopefully environmentalists will one day prevail here too, as they did now with the new Vjosa National Park.

The construction of an airport in the protected area of the Narta-Vjosa delta close to Divjaka-Karavasta National Park, which has been heavily criticised by environmentalists, was already started by the government last year. The project is intended to promote the ever-growing tourism on the Albanian Mediterranean coast around Vlora. But it is located directly next to a protected area for 200 bird species. According to scientists, the flight path also overlaps with bird migration routes, while the Vlora lagoon is an important feeding and nesting site for the endangered Dalmatian pelican.

Europe’s first Wild Rivers National Park:
encouraging news in contrast to development plans in Albanian protected areas

Even if the airport is planned in direct vicinity of the mouth of river Vjosa into the Adriatic Sea: The new national park of the Vjosa River, one of Europe’s last wild rivers, is encouraging news. The Vjosa flows 270 kilometres from the Pindus Mountains in Greece through narrow gorges, plains and forests in Albania to the Adriatic coast. Now its fragile and extremely important ecosystem has been placed under protection after this nature reserve was also threatened by development: For example, at one time 45 hydropower plants were planned in its region.

For the Vjosa, an almost decade-long struggle by environmentalists has paid off. Let us hope and work together that environmental protection will also win in the region of Divjaka-Karavasta National Park!