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

Another victory for the “Brave Women of Kruščica”

++ Women block bridge in Bosnia-Herzegovina for over a year to protect their river ++ New attempt by the investor to vacate the bridge has been...

Illegal construction works in Valbona-National Park are still going on

Charade of Justice in Albania: Different courts mutually cancel their decisions in the case of the planned power plant Dragobia. The suffering ones...

Blue Heart in the European Parliament

On Wednesday 27th June, there was a screening of the documentary film “Blue Heart” in the European Parliament in Brussels. In the subsequent debate...

Over 120.000 signatures against hydropower in the Balkans

++ Petition against the financing of dam projects in the Balkans signed by more than 120,000 people ++ Petition handed over to the EBRD in London...

Construction stop of hydropower plant in Valbona Valley

There is hopeful news regarding the Albanian Valbona River: The Administrative Appeals Court in Tirana ruled to stop immediately all the construction...

Bern Convention visits Vjosa in Albania

Representatives of the Bern Convention visited the Vjosa in order to investigate to which extent plans for hydropower development are jeopardizing the...

Brave women of Kruščica win court case against dam construction

A major court victory has been won by a group of activists protecting their community and river from the threat of new dam construction.

World premiere of the "Blue Heart" film

The film "Blue Heart" celebrated its world premiere at the disused Idbar dam in Bosnia-Herzegovina and delighted the audience.

International appeal to support the brave women of Kruščica

Women wanted: A global appeal to women to travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina on 28 April to occupy for an evening a bridge as part of the Blue Heart...

New Study: Hydropower development puts Europe’s fish paradise at risk

The Balkan rivers host 113 rare and protected fish species. If the hydropower development is carried out as planned, about 10 percent of all European...

International banks fuelling a hydropower tsunami that’s decimating pristine Balkan rivers – study

Multilateral development banks have supported no fewer than 82 hydropower projects across southeast Europe, including in protected areas, according to...

Albania plans to build airport in protected area

New international airport to be constructed in Narta Lagoon ++ Albanian parliament approved the project yesterday ++ EuroNatur and its partners call...

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...

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