Press Release

Kajak protest for the protection of the Vjosa

++No dams in Vjosa, save the last wild river in Europe protesters appeal++

Press release by EcoAlbania and BRD

Tirana September 10th, 2018. Standing behind a symbolic dam built of kayaks, the activists of the Balkan Rivers Tour together with local NGO-s and Albanian citizens protested against the decision of the Albanian Government to build the Kalivaç HPP on the Vjosa river. They asked to the Prime Minister Rama to declare the Last Wild River National Park of Vjosa. Then they marched toward the dam, destroying it.

Protesters behind the kajak dam. Photo: KatjaPokorn/ Balkan River Defence

Protesters behind the kayak dam. Photo: KatjaPokorn/ Balkan River Defence

Protesters destroying the symbolic dam. Photo: KatjaPokorn/ Balkan River Defence

Protesters destroying the symbolic dam. Photo: Katja Pokorn/ Balkan River Defence

The Albanian Government signed on October 2018 the concessionary contract for the construction of the Kalivaç HPP, giving the right to build the HPP to the coalition of 2 companies ‘Ayen Enerji’ and ‘Fusha shpk’. “We are determined to strongly oppose this project for the benefit of nature and communities living along the river”, said Olsi Nika from EcoAlbania. The Kalivaç HPP is one of the 38 projects on the Vjosa valley.  “Other concessions continue to be issued rapidly in the branches of the Vjosa, like in Shushica and Bënçë, where residents have not been part of public consultations”, he added.

The resistance for the protection of the Blue Heart of Europe is supported by the activists of the Balkan Rivers Tour which are returned to Vjosa for the third time. The third tour started where the first one ended, in the Vjosa valley. “We will be travelling across the Balkans for 31 days to show respect and support to local people and organizations bravely standing up for rivers. These rivers are true pearls and its great to see how people from around the world are joining forces and leaving the borders between nations behind for a common goal of protecting last pieces of European wilderness” said Rok Rozman, the biologist and Olympic Champion from Sllovenia.

Balkan Rivers Tour (BRT) started as a crazy idea and turned into the biggest direct river conservation action in Europe. When ex-Olympian, kayaker and biologist Rok Rozman started the tour in 2016 his intention was simple; have fun kayaking rivers of the Balkans and expose the destruction that hydropower dams are causing there. After extensive international media coverage and protests throughout the region during the first tour in 2016, BRT turned into an annual paddling and protesting tour where anyone is welcome to join in, traveling and paddling the Balkans, revealing the stunning wild rivers and untouched wilderness of Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia. Using whitewater kayaks as a means to spotlight the unknown rivers that are being destroyed by large and small scale dams, BRT generates attention from decisions makers, then passes the megaphone to the locals to demand their rivers stay wild, protected and free.