Mariann Saether –Reigning Extreme Kayak World Champion

Mariann Saether 

Born and raised in Norway, Saether is the current Extreme kayak World Champion, and holds a number of titles ranging from big volume freestyle competitions to canoe slalom titles under her belt. She is an avid outdoor enthusiast, and enjoys nature even more than books, which says a lot concerning her 9-year university degree in history, Spanish, English and Norwegian. She is a dedicated to stand up against hydro-power schemes in Norway and abroad, helping the Norwegian Paddling Federation limiting the amount of dams being put on rivers in her home country. She lives in Voss, Norway, and Futaleufu, Chile. 


The Balkan Rivers Tour

As the world descends into a spiral of green energy frenzy, the waterways of the world are under threat. Grave threat. For example, in my home country of Norway more than 98 % of our waterways are dammed – yet the decision to dam the Otta river, a giant flowing from the Jotunheimen National park, was made the fall of 2016. It is the biggest hydro scheme in modern day Norway – including piping the water into a tunnel with a diameter of 60 meters, taking the water through the mountain for more than seven kilometers. Some might call it a technical wonder that will power Europe´s hungry need for more green power – I call it a reckless rape of untouched nature that will destroy valuable eco-systems, along with the natural beauty of the valley. The Otta is my home river, and I am sad to se her go.

Over the years I have been involved in many projects in where we protest they hydro plants immerging in Norway. There has been some feeble success stories, but mainly we get shut down. Kayakers in the end, are not high up on the political priority list. That is why we need to focus on why these rivers and waterways are valuable outside of the fact that we like to kayak them – take for instance the White Nile in Uganda. I have helped creating awareness for the consequences of the proposed Isimba dam, which will be a disaster for the local community, the wildlife and ultimately – the climate. It is now documented that huge reservoirs caused by Mega-dams create more emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than first thought. But we can not just fight the mega-dams, we need to fight the global thought that hydropower is green energy. Yes, it is green compared to coal and gas – but is it green compared to solar, waves, tidal current, geo-thermal and beyond? That is the real question we need to wake up to – this is the question that needs to get put on the table.

The Balkan River Tour is a significant contribution in changing the global hydropower perspective – with more than 2.700 new dams scheduled to be built in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia and Albania the threat to the fragile ecosystems in and around these rivers are real. Help supporting the cause by joining the Tour as it will stop in 6 countries, at 18 rivers and 11 main events. Share the message – it is time to stop the hydro-power craze that has taken hold of the modern world. We can not afford to wait.

The Balkan Rivers Tour is a joint activity by Leeway Collective, EuroNatur, Riverwatch, and WWF, organized within the framework of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign. Without any regard for protected areas, endangered species or local communities, about 2,700 hydropower plants are projected to be built between Slovenia and Albania. With this campaign, we want to stop this dam tsunami.

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