At a formal ceremony in Tepelena this morning, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and his Minister of the Environment and Tourism Mirela Kumbaro declared the River Vjosa a Wild River National Park. As from today, the entire River Vjosa in Albania from its border with Greece to the Adriatic sea and its free flowing tributaries – a river system totalling more than 400 kilometres in length – have the very high level of protection.
Last week, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia made an extraordinary decision to revoke seven concessions for small hydropower plants in the newly proclaimed Shar Planina National Park. This monumental action strongly encourages NGOs' fight for free-flowing rivers and serves as a stepping stone to cancelling concessions for all small hydropower plants in Mavrovo National Park and other protected areas.
Belgian-based company Green Invest and its subsidiary in BiH, BUK d.o.o filed defamation lawsuits against two young Bosnian female activists, who have spoken out publicly about the environmental impact of the hydropower plants on the Kasindolska river. Today, 140 organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, numerous European countries and USA sent an open letter to the diplomatic representatives of Belgium and the Head of EU Delegation in BiH.
The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “making the invisible visible” with a special emphasis on the importance of groundwater. Groundwater is quantitatively the most important freshwater resource as there is 100 times more groundwater than surface water. In fact, it is where we source most of our fresh drinking water.
The German development bank KfW has today confirmed that it has dropped plans to finance the controversial Janjići hydropower plant on the river Bosna in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The plant would entail a 16 m high dam and would flood a picturesque section of the river with a series of rapids upstream from Zenica.
Today biologist Slameršek was awarded the Wolfgang Staab Nature Conservation Prize 2021 for her outstanding commitment to nature of European value. This prize is awarded annually and is endowed with 20,000 Euros – financed by the Wolfgang Staab Nature Conservation Fund of the Schweisfurth Foundation.
On Wednesday evening (16.00 local time), Maida Bilal received the renowned 2021 Goldman Environmental Prize on behalf of the “brave women of Kruščica”. The prize is endowed with 200,000 USD. The Jury justified their decision on the grounds that hydropower is not green, and is one of the greatest threats to wild rivers and the people living along their banks. Maida Bilal and the other women fought for one of the last free-flowing rivers in Europe - and won.
From May 29 to June 6, a science delegation from Austria, Albania, Italy and Germany collects multidisciplinary data from the two major Vjosa tributaries Shushica and Bënça. This research week is a follow-up of a comparable undertaking at the Vjosa in 2017, which contributed substantially to our success in establishing the ecological value of the Vjosa, fending off the hydropower projects (HPP) and which led to the designation as a protected area.
The election may be over, but the fight for the Vjosa is not. Over the last several months, support for the Vjosa has grown tremendously in Albania, other European countries, and around the world. As a result of campaigning, Edi Rama’s government agreed to a low-level ‘nature park’ protection for the Vjosa in March - which is a good first step.
On the occasion of this year’s World Water Day, today, several NGO’s released a series of photos capturing the words Vjosa National Park Now cloaking the foreground of globally recognised monuments in Paris, Berlin, Brussels, and Tirana. The activists behind the visual action are targeting the attention of European and Albanian politicians, urging them to declare the Vjosa in Albania Europe’s first Wild River National Park.
Our group of allies is increasing! Scientists in our network not only lend their own data but also use their independent voices to advocate for the protection of rivers.
The interactive map to explore the region in detail based on different criteria.
The Eco-Masterplan for Balkan Rivers is a comprehensive study which, for the first time, combines knowledge about biodiversity (fish, mussels, caddisflies), integrity of rivers and floodplains (hydromorphology), as well as the location of protected areas.
We are a coalition of NGOs who have launched the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” in order to raise awareness about the imminent dam craze on the Balkan peninsula and to spare the most valuable rivers and river stretches from destruction.