What is the Blue Heart?

Where in Germany can you still find the original wild rivers? You'll need a magnifying glass. But in the Balkans such utopias still exist on a large scale, even today. In the countries bordering the eastern Adriatic  and in Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and some parts of Greece, one can still find pristine streams, untouched gorges, extensive alluvial forests, rivers with huge gravel bars and spectacular waterfalls.  This is where the Blue Heart of Europe beats.

Save the Blue Heart of Europe

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Virtually untouched river landscapes

Nowhere else in Europe is there a comparable number and range of natural and undamaged river landscapes as in the Balkans. Over 80 per cent of these vital lifelines have good or even very good ecological status.  By comparison, only 10 per cent of Germany's rivers are still classified as near-natural, whereas 60 per cent are heavily regulated.

Biodiversity hotspot

The blue heart of Europe is a barely known jewel in Europe's natural treasure chest and it is largely uncharted territory. However, the first studies hint at an enormous range of species and habitats. The Balkan wild rivers are amongst Europe's key biodiversity hotspots.

Forty per cent of Europe's endangered species of freshwater molluscs (bivalves and snails) live in the rivers and lakes of the Balkan peninsula. In addition to this, the region has the distinction of having a high density of endemic fish species; there are 69 fish species that occur only in the Balkan rivers and nowhere else in the world.

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Campaign brochure "Save the Blue Heart of Europe"

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Save the Blue Heart of Europe - official website

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Why Albania Should Shift Away From Hydropower and Preserve the Last Free-Flowing River in Europe

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News: Blue Heart of Europe

Even one dam can destroy the river

A recently published study summarises the value of the Vjosa River system as one of the few remaining reference sites for dynamic floodplains in...

Activists demand European political support for a Vjosa National Park in Albania

++ The new slogan, Vjosa National Park Now, is a plea to protect Europe’s last big wild river ++

Albania Faced with a Choice: National Park or Destruction of the Vjosa River

The future of Europe’s largest unspoilt river hangs in the balance

Vjosa: Environmental groups submit proposal for Europe’s first Wild River National Park

++ Because of the Albanian government's inaction, nature conservation organisations are now taking action ++ Vjosa National Park could become a...

No green light for small hydropower in EU Finance Taxonomy

Hydropower is not a sustainable investment. EU Commission should listen to science.

Vjosa: Political game with the future of Europe´s last wild river

++ 94 % of Albanians in favour of establishing Vjosa National Park ++ IUCN confirms the potential of Vjosa River for becoming a National Park ++...

Small hydropower plants in the Balkans soon a thing of the past?

The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) announced Nov. 26 that starting in 2021, the government would no longer provide subsidies that support...

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...

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.

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...

Activists in Serbia get hands-on in fight against hydropower

In the Stara Planina region, residents from the village of Rakita have joined forces with conservationists to damage the pipes of a hydropower plant...

Fishes in Mediterranean region endangered due to hydropower boom

++ New study confirms: hydropower plants have a devastating impact on fish populations in rivers around the Mediterranean ++ Numerous species are...