‘Kucedra’ photo book captures Vjosa, Europe’s last wild river

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 14, 2018 12:36

‘Kucedra’ photo book captures Vjosa, Europe’s last wild river

Story Highlights

  • Dublin-based documentary photographer, Nick St.Oegger, launched in June his debut photo book: ‘Kuçedra: Portraits of Life on Europe’s Last Wild River.’ He has spent several years working in the Balkans, specifically focused on Albania. The book is a snapshot of life along the Vjosa, as it faces the threat of being changed forever.

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TIRANA, July 9 – Dublin-based photographer Nick St.Oegger traveled to Albania’s endangered Vjosa river to document life along its banks, and has now published the series of striking landscape shots of the environment, as well as the portraits of the people and homes of the riverside communities, in a debut photo book titled ‘Kucedra: Portraits of Life on Europe’s Last Wild River.’

The photo book came to life in collaboration with Patagonia and NGOs RiverWatch and Euronatur, as part of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign and was launched in Dublin at the Patagonia store, on June 15.

Vjosa has been named Europe’s last wild river as it has so far never been dammed or altered in any way and runs along its natural course.


Nick St.Oegger

However, the pristine river is under threat from hydropower development, which would alter the flow of the river, flood villages and irreparably alter and damage the region’s biodiversity.

In addition, Vjosa holds economic and cultural significance for the agricultural-based communities that live along its banks, thus risking the lives of those who would be displaced and lose their source of income if the dams and reservoirs become a reality.

The fall of communism and chaos that ensued in terms of property law and documentation has led to many of these villagers and farmers holding no deeds to their lands, and so compensation for what they might potentially lose would be difficult to ensure.

As pointed out by Oegger himself during the press release of his book launch, “the fact that the majority of these people don’t have an additional source of income or skills upon which to rely their livelihood, makes matters more difficult.”

The dams to be built at the Vjosa River  are part of a hydropower boom that is taking place everywhere in the Balkans. They are funded by international investment banks and could result in the construction of up to 3,000 dams along rivers throughout the Balkans.

In addition to St.Oegger’s pictures, the book also features an essay by Nataša Gregorič Bon, a social anthropologist at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, on Vjosa River’s importance to Albania’s economy and culture.

The government’s plans to allow the construction of hydropower plants along Europe’s last wild river has also sparked protests in the country by activists, nature-protection organizations and scholars alike over the past months, while also giving life to the ‘Don’t Touch Vjosa’ campaign, under which a number of awareness campaigns have been organized in the capital.


About Nick St.Oegger

Nick St.Oegger, born in 1988, is a documentary photographer from California, based in Dublin, Ireland, whose work explores the relationship between people and the environments they inhabit, both urban and rural. He has spent several years working in the western Balkans, with a specific focus on Albania. His clients include: Patagonia, Vice, Huck, Reuters, Le Monde, De Standaard, Nieuwe Revu and The Calvert Journal.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 14, 2018 12:36