Hands off Mavrovo National Park!

77,930 signatures handed over to World Bank

Dam projects to put national park and last Balkan Lynxes at risk

Joint press release by EuroNatur and Riverwatch from 26 June 2014

Vienna, Radolfzell.   The World Bank Country Unit for Southeast Europe based in Vienna had unusual visitors this morning. Representatives of the environmental NGO Riverwatch handed over a letter of protest - signed by 77,930 people - against the proposed funding of a hydroelectric dam in the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia.  “Hands off Mavrovo!” is what the signees demand from Ellen Goldstein, director of the World Bank Country Unit for Southeast Europe.

Rich in forests, the Mavrovo National Park is home to wolves, bears, otters and one of the rarest mammals in Europe: the Balkan Lynx - a critically endangered subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx. This national park is the only known area where the rare cat is still procreating verifiably. However, it is exactly this area where hydropower plants are to be built. According to the experts of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), the hydropower projects may lead to the Balkan Lynx’s extinction.

The World Bank intends to invest 70 million Euro in the hydropower project “Lukovo Pole” (total costs: 83 million Euro), which is planned to be built inside the national park. The World Bank claims to be still reviewing the final allocation of the loan.

“The credibility of the World Bank’s environmental standards (operational policies) is highly questionable once the Bank finances hydropower plants in national parks and thereby rendering the last Balkan Lynxes extinct. Director Goldstein, stop the funding!” demands Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch.
“These projects are an attack on Europe´s most relevant protected area category, an attack on the national park trademark and as such are unacceptable”,  says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur.

Under the auspices of “Save the Rainforest”, Riverwatch and EuroNatur have started an online petition within the context of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign about three months ago. Nearly 78,000 people have signed the petition so far (as of June 17, 2014).

The petition is addressed to the two financiers – the Wold Bank and the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) – as well as to the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. The EBRD (based in London) has also received the petition today, while the Prime Minister of Macedonia will be presented with it shortly.


Further information:

  •  “Blue Heart of Europe” campaign: The projected dams in the Mavrovo National Park constitute only one wave of a true dam tsunami that is putting Balkan Rivers at risk. More than 570 new dams (> 1 MW) are currently projected between Slovenia to Albania. In order to counteract this spate of destruction, EuroNatur’ and ‘RiverWatch’' have launched the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign in cooperation with local partner in the respective Balkan counties. Find out more here: www.balkanrivers.net



  • Riverwatch: Neustiftgasse 36,1070 Vienna/Austria, Tel.: 0043 - 676 6621512 oder 43 650 4544784; ulrich.eichelmann@riverwatch.eu; cornelia.wieser@riverwatch.eu; contact person: Ulrich Eichelmann, Cornelia Wieser
  • EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany, Tel.: 0049 - 7732 - 92 72 10,info@euronatur.org, www.euronatur.org/Blaues-Herz-Europas; contact person: Romy Durst, media contact: Katharina Grund

How you can help


Future needs nature. EuroNatur cares for it. Please use your possibilities to help. With your donation you will make an effective contribution to a more livable environment.

Sustaining membership

EuroNatur focuses on long-term nature conservation projects instead of quick fixes. With your regular donations, you give us the planning security we need.


Skavica mega dam: Albanian court to scrutinise special law for U.S. contractor Bechtel

++ Constitutional complaint filed by NGOs accepted for trial ++ First milestone in fight against one of Europe’s largest reservoirs ++ Thousands of…

Growing opposition to Albanian airport

++ Bern Convention calls on Albania to stop airport construction near Narta Lagoon ++ Project in Vjosa Delta endangers thousands of migratory birds ++…

EU Commission targets the wolf

Ursula von der Leyen warns of allegedly "dangerous wolves" - nature conservation organisations criticise misleading statements and dubious data…

Romanian forests: EuroNatur calls for a logging moratorium

+++ Open letter to Commissioner Sinkevičius calls for a logging moratorium in protected areas to end destruction of Romanian forests +++ Fourth…

Controversial airport construction in Albanian protected area casts shadow as far as Munich

++ Operating company Munich Airport International (MAI) is linked to illegal Vlora airport ++ Construction to take place in protected area of special…

Swimming for the monk seal

The Croatian free water swimmer Dina Levačić has been swimming in potential monk seal territories. Her campaign is aimed at drawing attention to the…

Wolf Offspring confirmed in the Black Forest

++ Photo trap image from the community of Schluchsee provides evidence of offspring ++ First wolf pack in over 150 years in Baden-Württemberg ++

Stork Village meeting in Tykocin, Poland

It was an anniversary celebrated in style: For the 20th annual meeting, representatives of the European Stork Villages met for the first time in the…

A slight sigh of relief for the Dalmatian pelicans

The Dalmatian pelicans at Lake Skadar are breeding successfully. This is all the more gratifying because last year's breeding season was disastrous.

Learning to live with bears

Preventing conflicts between people and wild animals

Urgent Call for Action to Protect Romania's Forests and Natura 2000 Sites

A recent report by EuroNatur and Agent Green provides new evidence on logging in Romania's protected areas. Nature conservation organisations call for…

Airport construction threatens Albanian bird paradise

++ Construction work for airport in Narta Lagoon continues unabated despite significant protests ++ Resting area is internationally important for…

Disappointing results of last trilogue on Renewable Energy Directive

++ Woody biomass and hydropower can continue to count towards renewable energy targets ++ No will for sustainable climate policy in the EU in sight ++

Major success: River Vjosa becomes National Park

++ Today the Vjosa River in Albania has been proclaimed Europe’s first Wild River National Park ++ EuroNatur, Riverwatch and many other partners have…

More Ski Resorts Planned Around Syvdovets

In 2016, the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration announced its plans to build a ski resort of the same name in the Svydovets mountain…