More than 2 years ago, we shared the alarming story about dam constructions in Europe. A follow-up study recently confirmed that developments went in the wrong direction, from nature’s perspective at least. We find the Blue Heart of Europe in south Eastern Europe. In the Balkans, especially in Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Greece you find some of the wildest rivers. The rivers, without human interference or constructions, provide high potential candidates for WILDRivers of the European Wilderness Network.
Please read also: Why rivers should be wild, not dammed
Blue becomes blocked
The NGO EuroNatur and Riverwatch are campaigning to save the Blue Heart. As part of the campaign, an assessment study identifies the latest developments every two years. The latest study revealed that the number of threatened rivers has increased, as did the construction sites. There are currently plans for 2,700 hydropower plants in Slovenia and Greece. Of these, 187 are already under construction. They will not only stop the flowing or rivers, but also impact surrounding nature dramatically. More than 1,000 plants will be constructed in protected natural areas, despite national regulations.
The loophole of laws
In general, environmental impact assessments must indicate the potential impact of hydropower plant constructions. In some cases, corruption plays a critical role when performing the assessments. Similar reasons threaten the Jiu river in Romania currently. Of the 2,700 planned hydropower plants, 91% will have capacities of less than 10 megawatts. Therefore, it is legally not required to perform an environmental impact assessment prior to the construction.
As part of the European Wilderness Network, we identify, designate, steward and promote Europe’s last WILDRivers. With examples as Belá WILDRiver in Slovakia, and Oulanka WILDRiver in Finland the European Wilderness Society supports also the wild rivers outside of Europe’s Blue Heart.
Find more information in flyer from EuroNatur and Riverwatch: