Existing legislation provides options for the full protection of Aoos

Existing legislation provides options for the full protection of Aoos, a very rare free-flowing, natural and wild river in Europe, to cover a section of the river in Greece which remains without protection status. This was point raised by Ioli Christopoulou in her contribution to the event “Criminal Law and Environmental Protection” where The Green Tank, MedINA and Pindos Perivallontiki – members of the campaign “Saving the last free-flowing river in Europe: Aoos/Vjosa” – were invited. The event was organized by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy George Amyras and the Deputy Minister of Justice George Kotsiras at the Municipality of Konitsa.

As part of the event concerned the Aoos river, Ioli Christopoulou focused on the Special Environmental Study which is currently under consultation and re-examines the Northern Pindos National Park. As she pointed out, this study, based on the current legislation, could be a vehicle for the full protection of Aoos, expanding the Northern Pindos National Park and covering the full length of the river and its tributaries. Instead, the Study treats the river in a fragmented way. Its largest section remains part of the National Park, as is today, and the rest is to be designated as an “ecological corridor” which provides a very low protection status, without ensuring that threats such as dams that can destroy the river’s special character are excluded.

Instead, the area could be designated as a “Protected Natural Formation”a proposal announced by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy – which would ensure the immediate protection of Aoos, especially against hydro projects, and would give valuable time untile the establishment of a single and strong protection regime. This will safeguard the river’s character, and will lay the foundations for a cross-border cooperation with Albania for the creation of the first Transboundary Free – Wild / Natural River Park, in parallel with the initiatives taken at the other side of the border for the designation of Vjosa as a National Park. Also, development potential will be used to the benefit of local communities.

The event was held on Friday February 17, 2022 and it is available on the YouTube Channel of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy.

Speeches were given by:

Giorgos Amyras, Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy

Giorgos Kotsiras, Deputy Minister of Justice

Contributions were made by:

Nikolaos Petsis, Forester, Conservation Officer of the Northern Pindos National Park Management Unit

Nikolaos Papagrigoriou, Head of the 5th Hunting Federation of Epirus

Charitakis Papaioannou, Biologist, Icthyologist, Executive member of Epirus SA

Ilias Georgakopoulos, Lawyer, Advisor of Deputy Minister G. Amyras

Giorgos Tassos, Veterinarian M.Sc, Representative of Ioannina Region Hoteliers Association

Alexandra Pappa, Project Manager, MedINA

Tonia Galani, Project Manager, Pindos Perivallontiki

The event was greeted by:

Alexandros Kachrimanis, Regional governor of Epirus

Nikolaos Eksarchou, Mayor of Konitsa

Stavros Kalogiannis, MP (Ioannina)

Meropi Tzoufi,  MP (Ioannina)

You can listen to the intervention by Ioli Christopoulou here (in Greek):