Our river projects

Saving the Balkan rivers

In the Balkans, many rivers remain unspoilt. This is where the “Blue Heart of Europe” beats. More than 80% of southeastern Europe’s rivers are in good or even very good ecological condition. By comparison, only 10% of rivers in Germany are considered near-natural and 60% are heavily regulated.

Many rare species live in the rivers of the Balkans, as yet largely undisturbed. Yet the “Blue Heart” is under threat; almost all the Balkan rivers are scheduled to be developed for hydropower utilisation -  without any regard for their ecological value. There are even plans for dams in high priority conservation areas.

What EuroNatur and its partners are doing to protect the Balkan rivers and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Designating the Vjosa a National Park: We are arguing for Europe’s last great wild river, the Vjosa in Albania, to be placed under strict protection.  A Vjosa National Park would protect around 300 kilometres of river and offer people an economic perspective - unlike the planned huge dams that would flood farmers' fields.

Vjosa Nationalpark Now

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  • Opposing the hydropower boom: We don’t just oppose hydropower plants; we are also working to identify alternatives that will enable the Balkan states to develop economically without the expansion of hydropower. We are helping to make Kutë, on the Vjosa, the first energy self-sufficient village in Albania and we have analysed the solar capacity of roof areas in Tirana where there is huge solar energy potential.
  • Mobilising people in support of the rivers: We are supporting civilians in the work they do for the rivers and are ensuring they have international support. We have initiated peaceful protest weeks in the Balkans, set up national campaign teams in many states of the Western Balkans, strengthened local opposition and gained support for our campaign from internationally recognised scientists.

Scientists for Vjosa

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Details about the "Save the Blue Heart of Europe" campaign can be found on our campaign website balkanrivers.net


Dam boom in the Mediterranean

In the Mediterranean region, from the Balkan Peninsula to the Iberian Peninsula, the last free-flowing rivers and their respective ecosystems are under threat from both large and small hydropower projects. Hydropower is often portrayed as a "green and clean" energy source. But dams destroy rivers. They impede migratory fish species on their way to their spawning grounds and block the movement of sediments in the river. This can lead to the erosion of entire sections of coastline.

Free flowing rivers are therefore essential for people, for animals and plants, and for sustainable development. EuroNatur is a member of the Anti-Hydropower Platform. The aim of this civil society movement is to protect rivers, from Portugal to Turkey, from the impact of dams and hydropower plants.

Graffiti on a dilapidated dam

Throughout the Mediterranean, resistance to river engineering is growing: Sloboda Rijekama - Freedom for the Rivers!

© Dinno Kasalo/CZZS
What EuroNatur and its partners are doing to save Mediterranean river landscapes and what we have been able to achieve together:
  • Taking legal action: With a powerful team of national and international legal experts, our partners are taking action against selected hydropower projects. Our strategy has been a successful one; many hydropower plants planned for particularly sensitive stretches of river have not been built or have had a moratorium imposed on their construction.
  • Establishing the facts: We are commissioning studies to increase knowledge of the threats posed by hydropower in the Mediterranean. We have thus developed a very good information and evidence base and, as a result, have been able to arm ourselves with compelling arguments to demonstrate why the massive expansion of hydropower is harmful to river character.
  • Lobbying: At a variety of political levels, we are arguing against the further subsidisation of hydropower. And, thanks to our persuasive efforts, several countries (Portugal, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) have stopped financing dams.

Partners: Riverwatch , Front 21/42, CZZS: Center for Environment, EcoAlbania, Tour du Valat, Medina, Pindos Perivallontiki, IUCN ECARO, Wetlands International Europe, WWF Adria, GEOTA
Promotion: Mava Foundation, Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung, Fondation Genevoise de Bienfaisance, Fondation pour la Sauvegarde de la Nature, Patagonia, EuroNatur donors.


Other EuroNatur river projects

  • Preserving Europe’s Water Framework Directive: In 2019, more than 375,000 people responded to the call by numerous nature conservation and environmental protection organisations, among them EuroNatur, to demand that the European Commission retain the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). With success - the WFD for the protection of rivers will remain!
[Translate to Englisch:] Die Save im Herbst

Autumn mood in the Sava floodplains

© Davorka Kitonic
  • Saving the Sava: Since its foundation, EuroNatur has been actively involved on the Sava River. We have saved the Danube’s largest tributary from countless construction projects so that, as far as possible, it has been able to retain its character as a river rather than just a waterway. Along the Sava, we are networking partners from four countries (Sava Parks Network) and improving the management of invasive species (Sava TIES) in the river catchment.

Partners: Public Institution Ljubljansko barje Nature Park (SL); Lonjsko Polje Nature Park Public Institution (HR); Public Institution Green Ring (HR); Public Company National Park "Una" LLC Bihać (BA); Centre for Environment (BA); Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province (RS); Nature Conservation Movement Sremska Mitrovica (RS); Public Enterprise "Vojvodinašume" (RS)


Join in and help us!

You too can join the large circle of those who are committed to Europe's wild rivers. We are grateful for every donation or active contribution! By doing so, you will support an independent and networked civil society in Europe that is working powerfully to protect our fresh waters. Please use your opportunities to help!


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 protect rivers in Europe.

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.


Award for Slovenian river conservationist

The biologist Andreja Slameršek was awarded the Wolfgang Staab Nature Conservation Prize on 11th November, a recognition of her tireless campaigning…

Still a long way to go for Western Balkan states

EU Commission presents country reports on accession candidates

Demand: EIB has to improve environmental and social standards

The European Investment Bank has financed a series of damaging hydropower projects since 2010 which underline the need to tighten its environmental…

Two studies for the restoration of the Sava River and its floodplain published

Two brand-new studies for the revitalization of the Sava River and its floodplain have been published presented to key stakeholders from 19 to 22…

Goldman Environmental Prize for the “Brave Women of Kruščica”

++ River defenders from Bosnia and Herzegovina win the Goldman Environmental Prize ++ For the second time in the past three years an activist has has…

Science week at the Vjosa tributaries

++ 35 scientists from Austria, Albania, Italy and Germany assess the two major Vjosa tributaries for a week ++ Data will be used to fight planned…

Plans for Kalivaç dam finally shelved

Great news for the Albanian Vjosa: The Kalivaç dam, which for many years hovered like a sword of Damocles over Europe's last great wild river, will…

EU funds for the destruction of nature?

For years, EuroNatur and its partner organisations have been fighting against the controversial Mokrice hydropower plant on the Sava River. The…

Bird paradise in Albania threatened by construction of an airport

++ An airport is to be built in the Narta Lagoon on the Adriatic ++ A stopover site of major international importance for migratory water birds ++ 8th…

Pressure continues for a Vjosa National Park as new government forms in Albania

The election may be over, but the fight for the Vjosa is not.

Webinar on legal instruments for river protection

In order to accelerate the development of hydropower in Europe, mandatory legal procedures and environmental impact assessment requirements are often…

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…