Mavrovo-Nationalpark: Demand for a halt to construction of hydroelectric power plants

Bern Convention: Macedonian government requested to halt construction of hydropower plants in national park

Streams like this would be destroyed by HP projects inside Mavrovo NP. © Theresa Schiller
The creeks' water is diverted through pipes, leaving the riverbed to dry. © Theresa Schiller
At the meeting of the Standing Committee, Council of Europe Strasbourg: Ana Colovic-Lesoska (Eco-sense) presents the Mavrovo case. © Aleksandra Bujaroska

Skopje, Radolfzell, Strasbourg. Plans for 17 hydropower plants throughout Macedonia’s Mavrovo National Park must be immediately suspended, so the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention ruled at its annual meeting last week. The Standing Committee emphasizes its special concerns with regard to the still ongoing developments of small hydropower plants within the park.

The governing body of the European wildlife treaty has already expressed concerns about the irreversible impact of hydropower facilities on the unique ecosystem of the park two years ago. In 2015, the Bern Convention Standing Committee urged the Macedonian government to halt any further hydropower development until all impacts are analyzed in the form of a strategic environmental impact assessment.

“Such projects should not be allowed in protected areas. The recovery of the ecosystem is impossible when the water regime is inconsistent or riverbeds are left to dry”, explains Ana Colovic Lesoska from the complainant Eko-svest, member of CEE Bankwatch Network in Macedonia. The Standing Committee’s 2015 recommendation also called on Skopje to complete the process of reconfirming Mavrovo’s status as a national park.

Following several years of campaigning by Macedonian and international environmental groups, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank dropped their funding for two large hydropower plants that had been planned in the park – Boskov Most and Lukovo Pole. Yet, according to a recent report by the government on implementation of the Standing Committee’s recommendation, a decision to formally suspend the two controversial projects is yet to be adopted. The report also suggests that, while the government does not intend to issue new concessions for smaller hydropower facilities within the national park, it also doesn’t take measures to stop the development of those projects for which concessions have already been approved.

Given the Macedonian government’s foot dragging so far – it did not even send a single representative to last week’s meeting – the Bern Convention’s Standing Committee now reiterate its call to suspend all hydropower development in the park. “Hydropower plants are inconsistent with biodiversity conservation and don’t belong in protected areas like the Mavrovo National Park“, says Theresa Schiller from EuroNatur.

The Standing Committee’s 2015 recommendation also called on Macedonian Government to complete the process of reconfirming Mavrovo’s status as a national park. But the draft Law on re-proclaiming the Mavrovo National Park prepared in 2015 first must be revised. "This law is in collision with the Bern Convention and the National Law on Nature. Instead of prioritising protection and promotion of biodiversity in Mavrovo, the law leaves the possibility for the construction of new hydropower plants on parks’ territory. The Government should amend the law in accordance with the guidelines and recommendations of the IUCN", says Aleksandra Bujaroska from the Macedonian NGO "Front 21/42".
 
Additionally, during the meeting, the Committee decided to add the Balkan lynx to its list of strictly protected fauna species. A national symbol of Macedonia – the Balkan lynx – can only be found in its western part, mainly in Mavrovo National Park. The species is considered to be critically endangered, the estimated population in the wild consists of only about 30 mature individuals. Scientific data published earlier this year by the Macedonian Ecological Society showed that the rare lynx is successfully breeding in Mavrovo, hence further emphasizing the need for careful protection and proper management of the national park.

Backgroundinformation:

• The campaign "Save the Blue Heart" aims to protect the most valuable rivers in the Balkans. It is coordinated by the NGOs EuroNatur and Riverwatch and carried out jointly with partner organisations from the Balkan countries. In Macedonia with Eko-svest and Front 21/42. More information at www.balkanrivers.net/en

Contact:
EuroNatur: Christian Stielow, christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, phone +49 7732 9272 15
Front 21/42: Aleksandra Bujaroska, aleksandra.bujaroska@front.org.mk, phone +38978433713

Do you want to 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 protect rivers in Europe.

News: Blue Heart of Europe

Study proves: Small power plants, big damage

European-financed small hydropower plants damaging pristine Balkan landscapes

Mavrovo-Nationalpark: Demand for a halt to construction of hydroelectric power plants

Bern Convention: Macedonian government requested to halt construction of hydropower plants in national park

Albanian industrial confederation demands halt of dam plans at Vjosa River

In Albanian society, the opposition against the projected building development of the Vjosa River is receiving further support. In an open letter to...

Hydropower Tsunami on Balkans

New hydropower report: Dam tsunami on Balkans is speeding up ++ 2.800 hydropower projects planned, 187 under construction ++ more than 1.000 of them...

Hands off Vjosa!

“Mos ma prek Vjosën (Hands off Vjosa!)” was the slogan at an atmospheric open air concert held in Tirana, where musicians let everyone hear about the...

Two new animal species discovered in the area of projected dam on Vjosa

++ International research team finds 300 animal species in only one week, including a new fish and stonefly species ++ Sediment transport could grind...

Huchen protesting at Drina Regatta

++ 20,000 people at this year's event on Drina River in Serbia ++ NGO's protested against damming the globally most important Huchen (Danube Salmon)...

Hydropower project Kalivaç revisited

Albanian government re-opens the concession procedure for the Kalivaç HPP++ NGOs prepare their opposition

Dam project stopped for the present

++ Albanian Court stops dam project on the Vjosa ++ Success for nature conservation and affected residents ++

 

Scientists for Vjosa

++ 25 scientists from Austria, Albania, Germany and Slovenia research Europe’s last wild river for a week ++ Press conference held on river island ++

European Parliament discusses Sava River

++ Opportunities for and threats to one of the most valuable rivers of Europe ++ Unique potential for natural flood control identified

Albania: European Parliament demands national park for Vjosa and stop to hydropower projects

In the current Enlargement Report of the European Parliament, the Parliament explicitly criticizes the Albanian government in regards to its...

“White Book Sava” presented

On the occasion of this year’s World Wetland Day on February 2, the environmental organisations Riverwatch and EuroNatur today present the “”White...

New Hope for Balkan Rivers

Funding for the two large hydropower projects in Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia, has been axed. After the World Bank withdrew from financing the...

Scientists call environmental assessment for Vjosa hydropower project a farce

Renowned scientists from Austria and Germany have analysed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the hydropower project Poçem on the Vjosa...

By using our services, you agree that we use cookies. Data protection