The Environment

Vjosa Forever | Patagonia Release Film To Help Save Europe’s Largest Unspoilt River

Patagonia has released their new film Vjosa Forever in a bid to raise awareness around protecting Albania's wild river

Europe’s largest wild river outside of Russia is facing its greatest threat yet. The situation surrounding the Vjosa mainly comes down to political unrest and opportunistic greed that could destroy the river as we know it.

Ahead of the upcoming Albanian parliamentary elections, citizens, activists, and conservationists are demanding political support for the establishment of Europe’s first wild river national park, as they seek to protect this river forever.

Patagonia has taken action with the launch of Vjosa Forever. This new documentary short film asks people everywhere to help join the fight in preserving the future of the Vjosa.

The launch of Vjosa Forever follows the 2018 Blue Heart film, which depicted the fight to protect the wild rivers of the Balkans – the ‘Blue Heart’ of Europe – from 3,400 proposed hydropower projects which would destroy the culture and ecology of this entire region.

The six-minute film created by Patagonia asks concerned citizens everywhere to show their support for a Vjosa wild river national park. They want to bring international attention to the environmental disaster that could ensue if it remains unprotected.

Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, says: “Grassroots activism, supported by legal action, have worked to get this historic decision on the table. Now is the time for Albanian politicians to step up. They will be doing something that’s never been done before and protecting this last, pristine river system, forever.”

Photo credit: Andrew Burr

For more than 10 years, local activists, international groups, scientists, and artists have fought against planned hydropower projects in the Balkans. In September 2020, Albanian politicians publicly announced the establishment of a Vjosa wild river national park, which would protect the entire network of tributaries. Yet, since then, local citizens are increasingly worried that this won’t be the case. They now feel compromises will be made, putting the river in imminent danger.

The national Albanian elections are due to take place on the 25th of April 2021. International nature conservation groups such as EcoAlbania, RiverWatch, and EuroNatur are calling on the public and political leaders to ensure the future of the Vjosa forever.

Studies show that 94 percent of Albanian people are in favour of establishing this wild river national park. If successful, this will be Europe’s first wild river national park and unparalleled in Europe in terms of ecological importance and scale. The designation would protect over 300km of rivers and streams, host to over 1,100 species; many of which are considered threatened.

Photo credit: Andrew Burr

Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO, Riverwatch, says: “The Vjosa miraculously survived the decades of destruction in Europe; it´s a gift to all of us. And it is, therefore, not only an Albanian responsibility to protect it, but also a European responsibility. This wild river national park would be an immense achievement for conservation efforts in Europe, and, at an EU level, it will make a real and significant contribution to the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the EU Green Deal.”

Besjana Guri, a Communication Officer for EcoAlbania thinks this is a moment for all Albanian citizens to feel real pride. “Not only are we protecting our country, our culture and our future, but, in the Vjosa, we have something of precious beauty that is unparalleled in Europe.” she added.

For further updates, stay posted via the Patagonia website.

You May Also Like

Connected By Water | The Story Behind The Big Wave Safety Movement

Fishy Business | New Patagonia Film ‘Artifishal’ Highlights Devastating Impact Of Fish Farms

8 Incredibly Powerful Documentaries That Will Change How You See The Planet Forever

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.