Save Europe’s Rivers

Europe is demolishing its dams to restore ecosystems

The Article “Europe is demolishing its dams to restore ecosystems”, which is published in the Nature Journal and written by Quirin Schiermeier is about the effort and effects of dam-removal, especially in Europe. Most scientists welcome the dam-removal trend but some call for research into potential ill effects. Hundreds of thousands of dams and weirs, most small and many no longer in use, fragment Europe’s rivers. The structures, some of them thousands of years old, have provided irrigation, energy and other benefits. But their presence also threatens the habitats of endemic fish and wildlife. Across much of Europe, rivers unfettered by artificial barriers are exceedingly rare. However, over the past 20–25 years, at least 5,000 small dams, weirs and culverts have been removed from rivers in France, Sweden, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to Dam Removal Europe. But restoration projects need to be monitored for negative effects, too, experts say. Decommissioning existing river barriers might mobilize toxic sediment, or affect buildings or bridges downstream. And existing dams could help prevent the spread of invasive species. But while old barriers are being removed, new dams are built elsewhere. Some 2,800 hydropower plants are currently being planned across the Balkans.

To read the full article click here.

Nature, europe is demoloshing its dams to restore ecosystems

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The Blue Heart movie was screened in Tirana – What would you do to save your river…?

++Around 200 people attended Blue Heart movie screening this Sunday in Tirana – The movie  will travel to  Vjosa valley communities.++


Tirana, May 7, 2018. “The Blue Heart” movie was screened last night in Tirana for the Albanian public at Cinema Millennium. The Albanian Premiere brought together about 200 people from Tirana and other cities of Albania, friends of Vjosa, representatives of state authorities, Albanian and international civil society organizations, activists for Vjosa and Balkan rivers protection, professors and students, etc.


The film of Patagonia, Californian Sportswear Company (by Farm League) shows the ongoing fight of local communities and Balkan activists to protect their rivers from the massive development of hydropower projects with about 3,000 HPPs planned to be built in the whole peninsula. In a 40 minutes’ movie, the stories of Albania, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are documented, in support of the campaign for the protection of the Balkan rivers, “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”. The story of Vjosa’s defense is that of Kuta inhabitants, Albanian activists and the successful legal battle against the construction of the Poçemi HPP.

1.1.3The movie will travel to the Vjosa Valley and will be screened for the affected communities by the HPPs in: Kuta (May 7), Përmet (May 8), Tepelena (May 9), Qesarat (Memaliaj / May), Selenica (May 12th), as well as in Shkodra (May 14th). The Croatian company “Via Solis” will screen the movie during the whole tour to come. Solar energy will be used for the screenings, as in other countries of the Balkans where the Solar Bus traveled the past week.


“The Blue Heart” movie has been translated into 14 languages and will be screened in over 500 countries worldwide. Patagonia, already with its own campaign in defense of the “Blue Heart of Europe”, has also launched a petition calling on international banks not to finance hydropower projects in the Balkans. Over 100,000 people have signed the petition so far.

  Background information:

    • This is a joint press release by Riverwatch, EuroNatur, and the EcoAlbania

  • The film ‘Blue Heart’ supports the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, which aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans from a dam tsunami of about 2,800 planned projects. The campaign is coordinated by the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and carried out together with partner organisations in the Balkan countries. In Albania, the local partner is EcoAlbania. Find more information at

    Further information

    Olsi Nika, EcoAlbania
    [email protected], +355 69 294 4757

    Cornelia Wieser, Riverwatch
    [email protected], +43 650 4544784

    Theresa Schiller, EuroNatur
    [email protected], +49 7732 927212

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Much Better Adventure on the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign

The field report “The Vjosa | Save the Blue Heart of Europe” by Much Better Adventure from Sam Bruce is about the Vjosa and what does make it really special and important for the biodiversity in Europe. The Vjosa, one of the last wild ecosystems in Europe, runs for 270 kilometers, untamed and free-flowing. What makes this river internationally significant is that its tributaries are untouched too, creating a network of wild rivers unlike anywhere else in Europe. The planned hydropower projects in the Balkan region are funded by multilateral development banks and international commercial banks including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank Group.  This includes 37 projects in protected areas like national parks and Natura 2000 sites, as well as internationally recognized areas of high biodiversity value such as Important Bird Areas. Besides of all this environmental impacts there are social impacts as well. Along the Vjosa, many of the residents will be forced to leave. Not just because their houses have been flooded, but because the land off which they live will no longer be arable. Locals and the international community are fighting for the alternatives to hydropower plants such as wind power and solar power, which provides a lot of benefits.

To read the full article click  here.

Much Better Adventures The Vjosa Save the Blue Heart of Europe

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International Day of Action for Rivers 2017: Save Europe’s rivers campaign with a common statement

save europe's rivers banner-05Rivers are the veins of the Planet. They are a vital stage of the water cycle, the nutrient transport that fertilizes our meadows and the sediment transportation that nourishes our beaches. Providing corridors of wilderness for those seeking adventure and the life blood of the communities that line their banks. Fee-flowing rivers are as important to mankind as they are to the abundant flora and fauna they support.

Despite this, they are the most threatened ecosystems in the World losing species and habitats faster than any other. Dams are the major cause of this damage. Europe’s rivers alone have more than one million barriers breaking river connectivity and blocking riverine life.

The need to produce renewable energy is greater than ever but technological advancements in wind and solar power along with the refitting of existing dams have brought many cleaner and greener alternatives than new hydropower.

If we continue to poison and stifle the flowing waters of our planet, we will cause irreparable harm to the systems that sustain us…

We must Save Europe’s Rivers now!

The following organizations subscribe this statement on the 14th of March, 2017, in celebration of the International Day of Action for Rivers

  • AEMS-Ríos con Vida | Spain
  • Aqua Viva | Switzerland
  • EcoAlbania | Albania
  • Free Rivers Italia | Italy
  • GEOTA – Rios Livres | Portugal
  • Leeway Collective | Slovenia
  • Save the River Conwy | United Kingdom
  • SOS Salvem o Surf | Portugal

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