The river also holds important economic and cultural value for the nearby rural communities which formed the backbone of Albania’s agricultural industry during communist times. These communities have seen decline and, in some cases, total abandonment as development by the central government has waned.
Today, the Vjosa and its tributaries are under threat from hydropower dams, which would permanently alter the flow of the river, harming life within, and displacing thousands who live along its banks. The dams are part of a hydropower boom in the Balkans which has attracted local and international investors who often disregard the social or environmental impact of these projects.
Despite aspirations of joining the European Union, the Albanian government has ignored calls to halt construction on the Vjosa, which would qualify as a protected environment under EU law. Local villagers and an international group of scientists and activists are challenging the government in court, in attempts to preserve the biodiversity, communities and culture of the region."‹