River protection in Europe

The Balkan rivers are a treasure trove of biodiversity.
113 endangered fish species live here.
© Andreas Hartl

Pristine rivers

During the past 200 years, most of Europe’s rivers have been diverted or dammed. However, around the Mediterranean and particularly in the Balkans, many natural river landscapes remain. Rare animal and plant species live here, quite a few of which are now only found in just a few short stretches of river.

Yet our continent’s last pristine wild rivers are scheduled to be dammed for hydropower utilisation or developed for navigation. As part of an international network of partners, we are committed to preserving wild rivers throughout the Mediterranean region. We are focusing in particular on southeastern Europe and are standing up to the hydropower lobby.  

We are protecting Europe's last free flowing rivers

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What we are doing for Europe's rivers

  • Stopping dam projects: By taking legal action, we have successfully blocked major dam projects such as the Pocem power plant on the Vjosa in Albania. Since 2019, as part of the “Lawyers for Rivers” initiative, legal experts and lawyers have been helping the local population to take action against hydropower projects. We are also filing complaints with other institutions such as the European Energy Community and are actively involved in reforming legislation and environmental regulations.
  • Supporting local opposition: Many people in southeastern Europe are no longer prepared to stand by and accept the destruction of their rivers. In many regions, local residents are opposing the power plant operators. Together with our partners, we are supporting them in their protests, networking those affected and bringing their concerns to the attention of the press. In 2019, we honoured the “Brave Women of Kruščica" with the EuroNatur Award.
  • Cutting off cash flows: No money, no dams. We are persuading lenders to stop investing in the expensive construction of hydropower plants. Thanks to our efforts, many European banks have already stepped back from financing dams and have revised their investment guidelines in favour of rivers. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development did so in 2019.

A river's value cannot be measured in megawatts.

[Translate to Englisch:] Ulrichel Eichelmann, CEO Riverwatch

How to donate

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!

Occupying bridges, analysing fish stocks, managing invasive species: there are many different aspects to protecting Europe’s rivers

Learn more about our river projects

Discover more

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.


Bern Convention targets crimes against nature

Dams, power plants, airports: numerous complaints from nature conservation organizations against destructive projects in the Balkans

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