North Macedonia: No-go zones for hydropower projects must be designated

++ NGOs, government representatives, experts, hydropower developers and the local community discuss challenges and solutions at an international conference on nature protection and hydropower projects in North Macedonia ++

EuroNatur project leader Theresa Schiller presents the Eco-Masterplan in North Macedonia. © Front 21/42
The Ribnicka is one of many small rivers in the Mavrovo National Park. The construction of the power plants and the necessary infrastructure would have fatal consequences for the species-rich area in North Macedonia. © Front 21/42

Skopje, Vienna, Radolfzell. The first ever national approach for defining no-go zones for hydropower projects was presented at a conference in North Macedonia. The approach is based on the “Eco-Masterplan for Balkan Rivers”, published by the NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur. This spatial plan for the watercourses between Slovenia and Greece defines no-go zones for new hydropower plants on the basis of the ecological value of the respective rivers. According to this scientific assessment, more than 80 %  of the assessed river stretches in North Macedonia qualify as no-go zones covering all protected areas like the Mavrovo National Park.

“The first and most important function of a protected area is to preserve nature – hydropower projects with their devastating effect on nature and biodiversity do not belong in a national park”, said Theresa Schiller, project manager at EuroNatur foundation, one of the NGOs coordinating the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”.
The local campaign partner in North Macedonia called for urgent designation of no-go zones: ”The new Energy Development Strategy till 2035, must reflect the international biodiversity targets and exclude the identified no-go river stretches from any future hydropower developments”, said Aleksandra Bujaroska, CEO of Front 21/42.

The NGOs’ spatial plan is supported by North Macedonia’s Deputy Minister for the Environment, Jani Makraduli. He recognizes the need to designate no-go zones for hydropower projects and supports the Eco-Masterplan’s conclusions and recommendations: “We should all join forces, us [the Ministry of Environment], the experts, business representatives, the international community, the civil society organizations, to address and solve these challenges together.”

Presentations were followed by fruitful discussions among the different stakeholder groups present, including the hydropower business sector. The conference confirmed the necessity of continuous discussions for finding common solutions .The conclusions of the conference will be submitted to the national authorities in charge of preparing and adopting the new Energy Development Strategy.

Background information:

More information:
Anja Arning, EuroNatur, Public Relations, anja.arning(at)euronatur.org; +49 7732 927213
Aleksandra Bujaroska, Front 21/42, aleksandra.bujaroska(at)front.org.mk; +389 78 433 713

 

 

 

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