Across the Balkan, Europe’s last wild and free flowing rivers shape the so called “Blue Heart of Europe”. This large system of rivers is a unique hotspot for biodiversity, as more of 60% of them are in a good hydro-morphological condition. In collaboration with local partner NGOs, like EcoAlbania, the NGOs Riverwatch (Austria) and EuroNatur (Germany) launched the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”, to protect this one-of-a-kind ecosystem from the construction of almost 2.700 new hydro power plants. As a high percentage of these projects are planned in protected areas, their realization poses a fatal threat to many endangered species.
To promote this natural gem and to raise the awareness about the international financial pressure that is applied on the governments of the Balkan countries, Rock Rozman, biologist and pro athlete, took his kayak, some friends and a bunch of supporters to realize a kayak trip across the Balkans. During April and May 2016, they paddled 23 rivers in 39 days in six Balkan countries and created a huge media response. As a result several projects could be halted, others were carried on.
To keep the awareness on this topic high and to promote it further, the crew of the Balkan Rivers Tour decided a relaunch. This year the group focuses on Soča in Slovenia and Morača in Montenegro. The Soča is already used for hydro power on the lower stretches. Whereas in the mountains the emerald whitewater of the river attracts thousands of kayakers and tourists every year, the lower parts show a completely different picture, with more than five bigger hydro facilities blocking the natural flow of the water. Three new projects are planned here on the upper stretches. The Morača River in Montenegro is still an intact, untouched and wild mountain river today. 11 projects in the river itself, and almost as many as that on its tributaries, threaten this treasure.
The tour started end of March with a four day source-to-sea trip from the source of Soča in the Julian Alps to the Italian coast. The goal was to show the contrast between the natural upper part and the tamed and dammed lower part. On April 6th the crew headed to the Dinaric Alps to explore the rivers and canyons in this remote area, to show opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, like kayakers, skiers and fly fishers. Besides the touristic opportunities, on their 17-day expedition they want to reveal what would be lost, if the plans for the many projects were realized. The tour starts in the Greek part of the Dinaric Alps, continues in Albania on the Vjosa river around mid April and ends in Montenegro on 19. April. Continuing the campaign in Montenegro, they will focus on the Morača and follow her from 24. April on, along the course into Skadar Lake, to carry on Bojana river until the Beach of Ada Bojana on May 1st.
Kayakers and activists are welcome to join the crew during the trip on Morača River or on Ada Bojana Beach to celebrate the end of the Balkan Rivers Tour 2.
30.3. – 2.2. Soča Sea-to-Source; 6.4. – 22.4. Dinaric Alps Expedition; 24.4. – 30.4. Morača Sea-to-Source;
1.5. Celebrations on Beach Ada Bojana
Find here the full agenda.