The Balkan Rivers: Save the Blue Heart of Europe

Pristine streams and rivers, untouched nature and thriving biodiversity: there are not many regions left in Europe like the "Blue Heart" in the Balkans. For example, the Vjosa river in Albania is the last wild river in the continent.

Vjosa River in Albania

There are now 3,431 hydropower plants projected to be built along these rivers, some in national parks and protected areas. These plants and their dams are destroying ecosystems and are causing irreversible damage to wildlife and people alike.

For years now, the NGOs EuroNatur and Riverwatch have been successfully campaigning for the protection of the Balkan rivers. With their Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign their mission is clear: damming must be regulated and the valuable ecosystems must be protected.

Their main goals are:

  • to  raise public awareness about Balkan Rivers, their ecological values and vulnerability
  • to stop dam projects in the 4 key areas
  • to coordinate the development of a masterplan with no-go areas for dam construction for all Balkan rivers
  • to improve knowledge about the biodiversity of those rivers playing a crucial role in terms of biological connectivity and endemism in the region.

- from the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign page

We proudly announce that we are now involved in this campaign. Ulrich Eichelmann from Riverwatch is going to use our river basin maps in his presentations all over the world, and we are now working together on different visualizations for individual river basins that will help reach their goals with the river Neretva. After their success with the river Vjosa, we are very hopeful!

This picture was taken on the Freedom for the Rivers press conference, as Ulrich Eichelmann was handing out our maps as thank you gifts for musician Darko Rundek and the band Partibrejkers. Photo credit: Vedran Ševčuk.

Freedom for the Rivers press conference: Ulrich Eichelmann handing out two Grasshopper Geography river maps of the Balkans to local musicians as a thank you gift.


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