World-renowned actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio has once again reiterated his appeal to declare River Vjosa a National Park.
In a Twitter post, DiCaprio wrote that this status would “protect the area from dams and a new threat from oil and gas drilling”.
The 46-year-old also posted an article from Global Wildlife Conservation written by Gege Li, a biochemist, who has been writing articles for the preservation of nature for many years in scientific magazines such as New Scientist or Chemistry World Magazine.
The article mentions the continuous protests organized by civil society and the engagement of environmentalists or the scientific community to protect the area by granting it National Park status.
The main source of River Vjosa is in the Pindus Mountains flowing for 70 kilometers, from its total of 270 kilometers, alongside Greek territory and then crossing through Albania and draining into the Adriatic Sea, just north of the Narta Lagoon, and it is widely referred to as Europe’s last wild river.
A great portion of its habitat is yet waiting to be explored. In a week-long expedition during 2017, scientists discovered over 300 species, some of which endemic. Experts believe that the species will be endangered by projects planned by the Albanian authorities.
In the last three decades, the intent has been to build 45 hydro powerplants, of which 8 right in the Vjosa River, while others on its branches.
Recently, the Albanian government approved the construction of an airport and tourist resort where the river discharges in the Adriatic, between the Narta Lagoon and the Vjosa river mouth, while in the area of Permet, the international company Shell has already started exploring for sources of petroleum and natural gas.
The government of Prime Minister Edi Rama said last year that he has refused environmental permits for the construction of hydropower plants in Vjosa, while designation as a National Park a part of its territory. However, Albanian NGO EcoAlbania, as well as RiverWatch and Patagonia, believe that granting the status is not enough to protect Vjosa entirely.
They are appealing for the entire River Vjosa to be declared a National Park in order to protect its flow from future plans.
Vjosa and Leonardo DiCaprio’s commitment
Leonardo DiCaprio has been a loud voice for the protection of the Vjosa River. Using social media he has appealed many times to protect Europe’s last wild river from the plans of Albanian authorities.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) May 6, 2021
DiCaprio has been a staunch promoter of environmental issues. He has also established a foundation that aims to promote the values of nature and increase awareness for the protection of endangered natural habitats.
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In 2010, he donated $1 million for a natural reservoir project in Russia, and three years afterward was a protagonist in a campaign to collect funds for climate change, cashing in around $40 million.
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DiCaprio was among the public voices that endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement and in 2018 his foundation collected $100 million to help address climate issues.
The Vjosa River, its species, and the livelihoods that depend on them are under constant threat of destruction from dams. Watch Vjosa Forever with @Patagonia and sign the petition to ask the Albanian government to support #VjosaNationalParkNow: https://t.co/F8hojt3Xp2
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) March 11, 2021
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