The GuardianThe Guardian

‘Historic moment’ for nature as Europe’s first wild river national park announced in Albania

By Karen McVeigh

16 Mar 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Proposed hydropower plants along Albania’s Vjosa River threatened its fragile ecosystem. But the river’s new status will protect it — and the 1,000 species that live there — from future development.

One of the last wild rivers in Europe, home to more than 1,000 animal and plant species, has been declared a national park by the Albanian government, making the Vjosa the first of its kind on the continent.

The Vjosa River flows 168 miles (270kms) from the Pindus mountains in Greece through narrow canyons, plains and forests in Albania to the Adriatic coast. Free from dams or other artificial barriers, it is rich in aquatic species and supports myriad wildlife, including otters, the endangered Egyptian vulture and the critically endangered Balkan lynx, of which only 15 are estimated to remain in Albania.

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