SRC Lecture and Panel Discussion


Talk and Panel Discussion | Community-based protected areas | Monday June 28th, 8pm – 9.30pm CET | Zoom

Protect what you love! But how do we do so? Join us to discuss which bottom-up approaches contribute to the protection of rivers.


Various designations of protected areas exist, but they don’t always provide the protection envisioned. What can riverside communities do to take to add force to these designations, or is a different approach required to effectively protect the rivers we love and live with?

Today, we have a carousel of short presentations that talk about a wide range of approaches to protecting areas and which role local communities can play. Afterwards, we discuss what we can learn from these approaches and what could be applied to the Valbona River. This River is the main subject of the Students for Rivers Camp that kicks off a week later.

The speakers of today are:

  • Catherine Bohne (TOKA), introducing the Valbona River Case
  • Besjana Guri (EcoAlbania), presenting the vision for the Vjosa National Park
  • Dan Yates (Save our Rivers), talking about the National Parks Matter campaign
  • Luigi Marmanillo (Marañón Experience), discussing how tourism can contribute to protecting rivers
  • Blerina Ago (ActiveAlbania), sharing her success story on protecting the Osumi Canyon through advancing rafting tourism
  • Vlado Vancura (European Wilderness Society), presenting their approach with a Quality Standard on how to designate and steward Europe’s last wild places.

After short 5-7 minute presentations, we invite you to ask questions to the panel and continue the discussion and hope to bring many of the ideas to the Students for Rivers Camp around the Valbona River in Albania!

Find some more information about the speakers below.

Dan introduces himself: Travel for expedition and exploration has driven my overriding desire for environmental action focused on the preservation of our last wild places, be they in the heart of the Himalayas or behind the local village. My activism has focused on enabling the outdoor community to block damaging developments and effect legislation change through existing legal structures. It is my belief that those most passionate about the outdoors must play a leading role in its protection.
His presentation: In 2017 the Welsh Government proposed a change to destinated landscape legislation that would result in the reduction of environmental protection for national parks. Save Our Rivers galvanized the outdoor community behind a campaign involving multiple conservation NGOs to ultimately block these proposals.
My passion for Wilderness conservation led me from demanding field experience to the team of people working on the European Wilderness Agenda and I was personally involved in the process of developing the European Wilderness definition, the European Wilderness Registry, and the establishment of the European Wilderness Network.
My motto is: Wilderness does not need to be protected, it needs protectors!

Today, Vlado will talk about the experience of the European Wilderness Society on protecting and stewarding Europe’s last Wilderness through working together with local communities as well as the opportunities and challenges of our work, with a special focus on Wilderness in Albania.



Luigi introduces himself: In love with nature, rivers, and outdoor adventures, I’m convinced that sustainable tourism can be an effective tool to protect our rivers. Co-founder of rafting outfitter Marañón Experience and national coordinator of Marañón Waterkeeper in northern Perú.
During his talk, he´ll share his experience working hand in hand with local communities for the protection and sustainable development of the Grand Canyon of the Marañón River. Educating, empowering, and uniting local communities and authorities to promote environmentally friendly activities within Regional and Private Conservation Areas, strengthening their love and sense of place for the Marañón River.

Blerina Ago is the founder of Active Albania ( She is a tourism trainer and expert, leading different initiatives bringing together local tourism community for economic growth and sustainable development in the Balkans region, Europe.  Blerina is known in the Wester Balkans as a spokesperson and the organiser of many events for the development of sustainable tourism and the preservation of the nature’s ecosystems. She is distinguished for the development of eco and rural tourism products, the cooperation between tourism operators, the exchange of best practices worldwide and the contribution to the drafting of the legal framework of tourism activities. In 2019 Blerina conducted the international digital campaign “Be Taken by Albania”. Blerina was also committed to saving the nature and ecosystem of the Osum Canyons from the construction of hydropower plants, in close cooperation with the national and international community. At the age of 14 Blerina was one of the first girls to practice rafting in Albania. Today she is a member of the executive board of the World Rafting Federation. Blerina is a Certified Hospitality Trainer with over 15 years of professional experience. She has designed and delivered tourism workshops and training classes related to product development, digital marketing in tourism, e-commerce, B2B & B2C sales, hospitality and tour guiding in adventure tourism during and post COVID-19 pandemic.

Her presentation will be about “Sustainable Tourism and Nature Conservation”. She shares her own experience during these years in tourism.