On Saturday, August 15th, hundreds of people from all over Serbia came to the village of Rakita with spades and mattocks to destroy illegal pipes of the Zvonce hydropower plant in their beloved Rakitska river. The investor laid the pipes illegally, but authorities didn’t act, so the people took matters into their own hands: “If the State is not doing its job and respecting the rule of law, we will do it for them!” was the motto of the action.

Hydropower plants, especially small hydro, are one of the main causes for the increasingly long Red Lists of fishes. If the expansion is not stopped, 186 fish species in the rivers of the Mediterranean region will be pushed further towards extinction. © Amel Emric

Hydropower plants are one of the main causes for the decline of numerous fish species in the Mediterranean region. This is the result of a new study. In total, 251 endangered freshwater fish species along with their stock situation in rivers in the Mediterranean basin were recorded. The impact of existing and planned hydropower plants on these populations was also evaluated.

Neretvica: 15 hydropower plants are projected along this pristine river. With the decision in the Federation of BiH all these projects will be checked © Amel Emric

++ Parliament imposes construction freeze for hydropower projects ++ Tuesday night, the Parliament of the Federation of BiH decided on a moratorium on all new small hydropower projects in the country. This means that no more new plants will be approved, and projects that have already been approved will be audited to see whether or not their approval was legally admissible.

++ On the occasion of the World Music Day on June 21st, 40 artists support the Blue Heart campaign for the protection of Balkan Rivers ++ The musicians want to shake people up and contribute to preventing the looming destruction of nature in their home countries. Darko Rundek from Croatia, Rambo Amadeus from Serbia/Montenegro, Jelena Milušić from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Srdjan Jevdjević/Kultur Shock (USA, originally from BiH) are only four of a total of 40 supporting artists.

We need your help: Threatened in their livelihood by a potential dam on the Vjosa, the village of Kutë in Albania – one of the most sunkissed countries in Europe – wants to show that the destruction of Europe’s last wild river is not even necessary. They can produce their own energy on their roofs, creating more income for the community.

The investor does not have a construction permit. © Robert Oroz

++ Residents block illegal construction of hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina ++  From 7 am, about two dozen people prevented workers from reaching the construction site despite the ban on assembly and Corona-related curfew. Unable to resume their works, they eventually left.

Late March and early April is the time of the Huchen. It is the period when this fascinating species spawns in gravel rich, free-flowing rivers. The Balkan rivers, like the Sava, Drina, Una, Sana, Kupa, are the last stronghold of this globally threatened species. However, the following photos were recently taken in the Mank, a small river in Austria by Erhard Kraus. 

Example of the reality of small hydro, the MHE Ravni na Pristavaci close to Užice/Serbia © Amel Emric

++ NGOs submit a complaint to the Energy Community against Serbia on the basis of its failure to fully assess the environmental impacts of small hydropower before their construction ++ The four NGOs are raising concerns about how Serbia decides whether or not an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is needed for small hydropower projects (<2 MW) prior to their development.

In 2018, 11 scientists of the IGB sampled the entire river network of the Vjosa  in a three weeks long expedition. They stand up for their findings and urge to protect this intact ecosystem, which has become extremely rare throughout the world.

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