Eco-Masterplan for Balkan Rivers: Drawing a Line in the Sand

Produced by the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, this masterplan for the Balkan rivers defines river stretches of high ecological value in the region, including in Albania, and provides a spatial plan for their protection. It identifies “no-go” areas along important river stretches, where hydropower development would be damaging to extraordinary natural ecosystems.

The study provides prospective outcomes for the socio-economic development of the area, by comparing the increase of income and local welfare through hydropower installation on the one and the establishment of a National Natural Park on the other hand, over a period of 35 years, concluding that hydropower dams would have ‘a negative impact on the socio-economic, environmental and biological aspects of the area’, since they would cause a loss of employment in the agriculture-livestock sector and tourism – the area’s current mainstay.  

The analyses conclude that the Vjosa valley would benefit socio-economically by turning into a National Natural Park; as such, employment would be increased, while the generated income would reach the local communities. Especially solarpower, instead of hydropower, as a prospective energy source bears the potential of improving the infrastructure of the valley in line with the conservation of the valley’s assets.