Here’s some fantastic news: Europe’s last surviving ‘wild river’ in Albania is set to be made into a national park, thereby protecting it from future development and pollution. Three cheers to that, eh?
So what is a ‘wild river’, you ask – after all, aren’t most rivers pretty wild? Well, a wild river is one that has remained close to its natural, free-flowing state. The term usually refers to waterways that aren’t dammed and so flow without much human interference.
The Albanian river that is soon to become a national park is called the Vjosa and it flows for 170 miles (274 kilometres) from Greece’s Pindus mountains down into the Adriatic sea. And it isn’t just the Vjosa that is going to be protected, either: several of its tributaries are also soon to come under the umbrella of what will be Europe’s first ‘wild river national park’.
The Vjosa’s national park status comes at the end of a decades-long campaign from conservation groups. Over the past five years, the river has increasingly come under threat from developers looking to build hydroelectric power sources, so it’s hoped that the river’s new status will safeguard it from dam development, keep it from getting polluted and help protect the species within it too.
So, who’s going to help enforce it? Well, in addition to the Albanian government, environmental groups EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, and, surprisingly, clothing company Patagonia are all helping draft a plan for the national park. Patagonia has even made a film for the project, which you can watch here.