Albanian and international science community stands up against damming the Vjosa

++ 776 scientists demand in a petition an end to the dam projects on the Vjosa in Albania ++ Scientists demand Albanian government to respect scientific standards in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Kalivaç hydropower project ++

<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Albanian president Ilir Meta (fourth from the left) welcomes a delegation of scientists and accepts their petition against the damming the Vjosa, signed by 776 Albanian and international scientists. In addition, the petition was handed to the Head of Parliament, Vice Minister of Infrastructure and Energy and the ombudsman in Tirana.

© Albanisches Präsidentschaftsbüro
<p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Already in October last year, some of the scientists travelled to the Vjosa. They are united in their efforts to protect the wild river.

© Nick St. Oegger

Tirana. In a remarkable press conference in Tirana on February 15th, twelve Albanian scientists, supported by another three colleagues from Austria and Germany, raised their voices for the Vjosa and especially against the ongoing process in regards to the Kalivaç dam project.

Their position is backed by an enormous support from the scientific community: 776 scientists from 46 countries signed a petition to stop the dam process on the Vjosa river and to follow international standards in this matter. Amongst them, some of the most renowned scientists of the world. This is one of the largest science petitions in freshwater ecology globally. Remarkably, the petition was also signed by 129 experts from Albania, which has never happened before in modern history of the country.

The petition is addressed to the Albanian government, namely Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi and Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku. The signees warn about the risks and consequences of the hydropower dam projects on the Vjosa such as loss of ecological uniqueness, water quality deterioration, groundwater deterioration, hazards of seismic activities, coastal erosion etc. However, neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministry of Tourism and Environment were willing to receive the petition. Instead, and on behalf of the Albanian people, President Ilir Meta accepted the petition and welcomed a science delegation on Friday, February 14th. He underlined his support to protect the last wild river in Europe. In addition, the petition was handed to the Head of Parliament, Vice Minister of Infrastructure and Energy and the ombudsman in Tirana.

The concern of the scientists proves to be more valid than ever. Recently, the summary of the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for the Kalivaç hydropower project was presented to the public in Memaliaj. Its poor quality indicates that scientific standards and evidence have not been met: the time period for the entire assessment was way too short (just months instead of 2-3 years), no transboundary impact was evaluated, important data is missing. “The whole process, I am afraid, is fake. For years, Albanian scientists together with our colleagues from other countries have offered support in the Vjosa case, but the Albanian politicians have persistently ignored us. However, we continue to speak up not only for the Vjosa, but also for respecting scientific standards in Albania, for the benefit of our people and nature”, says Prof. Aleko Miho from Tirana University.

Prof. Ferdinand Bego from Tirana University adds: “The Vjosa, the only wild river left to us as created by nature, is a river we owe to our future generations. It is the only salvation for us and our future generations, who will live in this country to correct our mistakes and recover wild river life even for other rivers in the country. No environmental analysis, much less the one presented by the EIA in question, may stand or be justified in the face of such a national emergency.”

Prof. Fritz Schiemer, University of Vienna: “Today, the Vjosa is more than a beautiful river in Albania: she is famous in the scientific community all over Europe and even on a global scale. Unfortunately, we have evidence that the Kalivaç EIA is more a caricature of an EIA than an actual serious EIA. Our own assessments prove the enormous value of the Vjosa system. However, further detailed studies for at least 2-3 years are required as a basis for a valid EIA. Apparent risks and hazards of damaging nature, people and economy of the country remain to be addressed”.

In addition, Dr. Klodian Skrame from the Polytechnical University Tirana emphasized a very up to date issue, the seismic risks: “Building a dam in the Vjosa basin is wrong, because the area is one of the most active seismic areas in Albania. The area from Kalivaç to Poçem is bordered by an active fault on the Southern part. Its effects on the present landslides and on hydropower constructions need to be widely define. Dams with large reservoirs would increase the risks for people that live downstream the dam.”

All scientists confirm that they are willing to support the government, if the government should decide to start a proper process respecting modern scientific and legal requirements. Therefore, the experts are once again calling on the responsible authorities to start an honest process and to stop this misleading, fake procedure in regards to the Kalivaç project. “The Vjosa is of tremendous value for Albania and all of Europe and therefore we will not give up in this matter”, all scientists conclude.

Background information

  • Download the Petition of Scientists for the Vjosa River and the Statements of prominent petition supporters
  • The scientific arguments against damming the Vjosa are manifold. In short videos, the scientists warn of the many aspects of concern, including erosion of the coastline, loss of biodiversity, threat of dam break due to earthquake-prone area, loss of economic income and many more.
  • The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last intact natural rivers in Europe outside Russia. While the Albanian government wants to build dams in the river – starting with the Kalivaç dam – the alternative vision is to establish Europe´s first Wild River National Park. Scientists from Albania, Austria, Germany, and France have been researching the Vjosa over the last 4 years and came to the conclusion how important it is to protect the river.
  • The campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” 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 organisations in the Balkan countries. The local Partner in Albania is EcoAlbnia. Find more information at https://balkanrivers.net/

 

Contact information:
Anja Arning, EuroNatur, anja.arning(at)euronatur.org, +49 (0)7732 – 927213
Prof. Aleko Miho, Universität Tirana, aleko.miho@fshn.edu.al
Prof. Ferdinand Bego, Universität Tirana, ferdinand.bego@fshn.edu.al
Prof. Fritz Schiemer, Universität Wien, friedrich.schiemer@univie.ac.at
Besjana Guri, EcoAlbania, b.guri@ecoalbania.org
Ulrich Eichelmann, Riverwatch, ulrich.eichelmann@riverwatch.eu, +43 676 6621512

 

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 protect rivers in Europe.

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: Blue Heart of Europe

Success for nature conservation: construction freeze for hydropower projects

++ Parliament imposes historic decision for rivers in Bosnia & Herzegovina ++

The "Brave Women of Kruščica" must fight again

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the women residents of the village of Kruščica are once again preparing to blockade their river. Investors have announced...

Artists speak up for Balkan Rivers

++ On the occasion of the World Music Day on 21 June 40 artists support the Blue Heart campaign for the protection of Balkan Rivers ++

Expansion of hydropower under protection of curfew

++ Increasing destruction of nature in times of pandemic ++ Investors exploit the corona crisis for illegal construction of hydropower plants ++...

Complaint against Serbia submitted to Energy Community

EuroNatur and three other NGOs submit a complaint to the Energy Community against Serbia’s failure to fully assess the environmental impacts of small...

Albanian and international science community stands up against damming the Vjosa

++ 776 scientists demand in a petition an end to the dam projects on the Vjosa in Albania ++ Scientists demand Albanian government to respect...

Rebuke for Albania: Bern Convention insists on Albanian government to suspend hydropower projects on Vjosa river

The Bern Convention Standing Committee has decided to keep the case against the Albanian government in regards to the projected Pocem and Kalivac...

Europe’s rivers are damned by dams

++ New study reveals extent of hydropower frenzy all over Europe ++ Plans for more than 8,700 new hydropower plants ++ Devastating impacts on...

“Brave women of Kruščica” receive EuroNatur Award 2019

++ EuroNatur Award goes to dedicated river conservationists from Bosnia-Herzegovina ++ Dam boom threatens the last wild rivers of our continent ++

Another victory for free-flowing rivers inside Mavrovo National Park

++ Construction permits for two hydropower plants annulled after supervision by construction inspectorate ++

New report: hydropower subsidies wreak environmental havoc and line influential pockets in the Western Balkans

Disproportionate public subsidies for small hydropower in the Western Balkans have resulted in widespread environmental damage and have benefited...

Bridge blocked - river saved - honoured with EuroNatur Award

++ EuroNatur Award 2019 goes to the “brave women of Kruščica" ++ Bridge occupied for over 500 days to block construction of hydropower plants ++ Award...

“Brave Women of Kruščica” honoured for river protection

++ River conservationists from Bosnia-Herzegovina receive EuroNatur Award 2019 ++ Energy companies want to exploit the last wild rivers of Europe, but...

Wave of protest against Balkan dam building frenzy

++ First ever international action weeks for Balkan rivers ++ People took to the streets in many countries of the Balkan region ++ They protested...

Hydropower Project Mokrice put on hold

Good news from the Sava: Our appeal against the building of the hydropower plant Mokrice at the Slovenian-Croatian border was successful. The...

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