Dams on Neretva river: Complaint submitted to Bern Convention

++ NGOs submit a complaint to the Bern Convention against Bosnia and Herzegovina for permitting dam-building on the pristine upper Neretva ++ A related complaint was submitted to the Energy Community Secretariat in August ++

<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>                upper Neretva in BiH</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

The upper Neretva is one of the most pristine river ecosystems in the Balkans.

© Robert Oroz
<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>                white-clawed crayfish, rare species in the pristine rivers in the Balkans</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Among other rare species, the endangered white-clawed crayfish finds habitat in the upper Neretva. This species is further threatened by the proposed dams.

© Amel Emric
<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>                upper Neretva in BiH</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

The planned HPPs would turn most of the upper part of the river into a series of end-to-end dams, pipes and reservoirs.

© Amel Emric

Environmental groups the Center for Environment, Aarhus Center Sarajevo, Riverwatch, EuroNatur, ClientEarth and CEE Bankwatch Network today submitted a complaint against Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats for failure to protect the pristine upper stretches of the river Neretva from planned eight hydropower projects.

The upper Neretva is one of the most pristine river ecosystems on the Balkans. It is a wilderness area with very little human interference so far. That´s why it has been nominated as a candidate Emerald Site under the Convention since 2011. However, it is under threat from the 35 MW Ulog hydropower plant and a series of seven smaller plants known as the Upper Neretva Hydropower project. The plants would turn most of the upper part of the river - a stretch of around 30 km - into a series of end-to-end dams, pipes and reservoirs.

The submission to the Bern Convention follows a related complaint made by the groups earlier this year to the Energy Community Secretariat, highlighting serious flaws in the environmental permitting processes for the projects. The environmental impact assessments carried out for the projects identified only a few of the species likely to be present near the site of the plants, but still concluded that the projects could go ahead. Despite the area being inadequately researched, rare species including bears, wolves, otters and crayfish, as well as a specific type of trout are known to be present. 

The upper Neretva river is a natural jewel of the Balkans. With the surrounding pristine forests, it forms a wilderness area that is without par in Europe. The dam projects would not only destroy this ecosystem, but Bosnia-Herzegovina would also violate ratified international agreements. That´s why we file these complaints,” says Ulrich Eichelmann, coordinator of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign from Riverwatch.

According to the research done so far, the area around the source and the upper course of the Neretva River has been confirmed to be an exceptionally preserved ecosystem. These projects need to be stopped due to its exceptional value as no mitigation measures could preserve this area,” added Jelena Ivanic from the Center for Environment.


Background information

  • EFT’s 35 MW Ulog hydropower plant, with a 53 metre high dam and 2.7 km derivation tunnel is the furthest downstream of the planned plants. It is currently undergoing preliminary works, with China’s Sinohydro as the main contractor. Work on the plant started for the first time in 2013, but in July of that year, two fatal incidents took place and work stopped. On 4 July a worker from the Prijedorputevi company was killed by a rock breaking off a cliff face while building access roads. Only four days later on 8 July another worker from the same company was also killed by a rockslide, and another worker taken to hospital. After this, the works were put on hold while more research was done, but in 2017 the project was redesigned with the dam slightly further downstream.
  • The seven Upper Neretva hydropower plants are planned by Marvel d.o.o. upstream from the village of Ulog and would have a combined capacity of 15.1 MW. Despite the small generation capacity, one of the dams - Uloški Buk - would be 41-56 m tall (the environmental assessment is unclear).
  • The Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans from a dam tsunami of about 3,000 planned projects. The campaign is coordinated by the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur and carried out together with partner organizations in the Balkan countries. The local Partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the Center for Environment and Aarhus Center Sarajevo. Find more information at: https://balkanrivers.net/

How you can help

Donation

Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please use your possibilities to help. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to a more livable environment.

Newsletter

Twice a month, EuroNatur provides you with the latest campaign and project information about Europe's natural heritage free of charge and at first hand.

News

Protection of some primary forests announced – shortly before national elections

After years of bureaucratic burdens some iconic primary forest – such as Boia Mica valley in Fagaras Mountains – are finally protected. However,...

Wolf population in West Poland still not secure despite growth in numbers

A long-term study on the spread of wolves into West Poland, which has just been published, makes clear that, despite the continuing growth in numbers...

Digger for Ulcinj Salina ended up in the scrap metal

In 2004 EuroNatur provided a grant for a digger to carry out conservation work at Ulcinj Salina, particularly for the maintenance of dams and dykes....

Legal victory for Romania's forests

For a long time, the Romanian authorities and the Romsilva State Forest Administration kept environmentally relevant information in forest management...

Ionian island paradise under threat

The north-east end of Corfu, close to the Albanian mainland, is the Erimitis Peninsula. It has been spared from mass tourism until now and can only be...

Dams on Neretva river: Complaint submitted to Bern Convention

++ NGOs submit a complaint to the Bern Convention against Bosnia and Herzegovina for permitting dam-building on the pristine upper Neretva ++ A...

Slovene Government planning to expand hydroelectric power

A series of hydroelectric power stations are planned to be built along the River Save in Slovenia; the government in Ljubljana has granted several...

Witnessing illegal logging by Romanian state forests

Fact-finding trip by Thomas Waitz, MEP with Agent Green reveals that illegal logging in Natura 2000 areas continues regardless of EU infringement...

2020 EuroNatur Award for tenacious opponents of pesticides

++ This year’s EuroNatur Prize is awarded to the South Tyrol village of Mals ++ Nationally well-known through their campaigning for a ban on...

Nature conservation essential for EU accession

Hydropower, deforestation, biodiversity: The Commission's report on the EU candidate countries sets out clear requirements for nature conservation.

European Green Belt: Nature conservation connects neighbours

++ 30 years since German reunification ++ Conservation of the natural world along the former Iron Curtain as a Central European peace project ++

Pesticide-free zone for sustainable agriculture

++ EuroNatur 2020 award goes to Mals in South Tyrol ++ Opponents of pesticides repeatedly face legal action ++ Award ceremony with a difference this...

BREAKING NEWS: Albanian PM Rama reacts – Kalivaç will not be built

In a reaction to the statement of Albanian President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced to the media today that he also is in favor of...

Alliance against Kalivaç dam on the Vjosa is growing

++ Vjosa Research Centre in Tepelena inaugurated ++ Scientists refute Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on Kalivaç hydropower plant ++ Albanian...

Deadline expired: Protect rivers consistently now

Conservation organizations are demanding a moratorium on the construction of small hydro power plants from the government of the Federation of Bosnia...