'Vjosa Forever' chronicles the ongoing struggle to secure the future of the unique Vjosa river system, from political uncertainty and opportunistic greed to the hopes of creating a Vjosa National Park (the first of its kind in Europe). With an Albanian election in April of 2021, we fear that this ‘Queen of Europe’ faces its greatest danger yet. At this historic moment, people everywhere have an obligation to speak for the Vjosa; to keep it running wild, forever.

We want to provide you with an overview of the situation on the Balkan and how we try to achieve the impossible: to save the Balkan rivers from a dam tsunami of more than 3,400 hydropower projects. Meet the Lawyers for Rivers, learn about the Artists for Balkan Rivers project, about Europe´s last big wild river – the Vjosa in Albania – and many other outstanding rivers on the peninsular.

We call on the Albanian government to act on their promise and create the Vjosa Wild River National Park © Gregor Subic

Today, February 10th, 20 Albanian environmental organisations submitted a detailed proposal for the creation of the Vjosa National Park to the Minister of Tourism and Environment. The group of NGOs feel compelled to take this step since Albanian government representatives have been announcing the national park for months, but have not taken any steps towards its implementation.

In a recent study, researchers of NOVA University Lisbon evaluated the economic viability and energy productivity of existing and planned small hydropower projects in the European Mediterranean region. They found that currently, they can cover at best 2.6% of gross electricity consumption and 0.47% of primary energy consumption. The real contribution is likely much lower.

Every two years, we analyse the situation of hydropower development in the Balkans, updating the data of existing and planned hydropower plants as well as those currently under construction. Since the last update of this kind in 2018, another 300 HPPs came into operation, leaving hundreds of kilometres of rivers and streams devastated.

In Europe, 91 percent of the planned 8,000 hydropower plants are “small”. But what do small dams really look like and how do they affect nature and species around them? Not many people have ever seen a small dam scheme. This is why we prepared this catalogue visualizing the effects of small hydro with drone footage of existing dams.

1.	Contrary to the announcement of Albania´s Prime Minister Edi Rama, the Minister for Environment does not plan a national park and no protection status at all for the most valuable river stretches like this one near Poçem. © Gernot Kunz

++ 94 % of Albanians in favour of establishing Vjosa National Park ++ IUCN confirms the potential of Vjosa River for becoming a National Park ++ Albanian Environmental Minister has opposing plan++ Today, EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur informed the public about the latest developments regarding the Vjosa.

Kosovo: Destroyed river bed inside Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park as a result of  Kelag (KelKos) hydropower construction © Shpresa Loshaj

The two hydropower plants of Kelag (Kelkos) in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo must be taken off the grid again. This is the decision of a court in Prishtina! A few weeks ago, Kelag announced that it has fulfilled the requirements and has therefore been granted permits for two of the three hydropower plants in the Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park in Kosovo.

The Ugar in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a pristine mountain river where large Huchen spawned every spring. Now, two Kelag power plants drain most of the water and the Huchen are gone. © Amel Emric

The Austrian Kelag likes to present itself as a modern company with the highest environmental and social standards. However, reality paints a quite different picture: the Kelag is a problematic company in the Balkans. For years, environmental organizations and local residents have been protesting against its hydropower projects and the behavior of its employees, especially in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Pages