Quantcast
Animals

Balkan Dams Pose Major Threat to Protected Species

Construction sites for hydroelectric dams are popping up all over southeast Europe and endangering mountain rivers and the region's unique biodiversity, according to researchers.

More than 2,700 hydropower plants are in the planning phase across the Balkans, with 37 percent of dams slated to be built on land with "high protection status," according to Save the Blue Heart of Europe, a coalition of NGOs. Within that 37 percent, 118 dams will be constructed in national parks, while another 547 will be built in Natura 2000 areas, an EU-designated network of nature protection areas.


Albania, already home to 30 hydropower plants, hosts a number endemic species now under threat. Earlier this year, a team of scientists found an unnamed fish, previously unknown, in the Vjosa river. Beyond unidentified species, researchers noted that the Vjosa river alone and its flood plain also host another five "strictly protected fauna species," describing the region as a haven for aquatic species that have vanished across large parts of Europe. "The majority of these viable communities are expected to irrecoverably go extinct as a result of the projected hydropower dams," the report states.

The Albanian government disputes these concerns. "These designs have been based on the best environmental practices that are being applied today for minimizing the effects of high dams on the circulation of aquatic faunas," Damian Gjiknuri, Albania's energy minster told the Guardian. According to Gjiknuri, most of the dams being built were "run-of-the-river hydropower," meaning they generate less than 10 megawatts of energy.

The Vjosa riverGregor Šubic / Save the Blue Heart of Europe

Conservationists warn that these dams, which require no impact assessment due to their size, aren't as benign as the Albanian government implies and often cause cumulative impacts.

Balkan rivers host 69 endemic species and more than 40 percent of Europe's endangered freshwater mussels and snails, according to researchers.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
In the barrier reef in Belize a cave in formed a great blue hole. Lomingen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

LIVE Interview: Plastic Found in Great Blue Hole in Belize

2018 was the year for plastic pollution awareness. One good aspect of the plastic crisis is the fact that we can solve it. Getting involved with solutions is an easy way to have our voices heard globally.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Southern Resident killer whale mother and her calf swimming. NOAA

Washington Gov. Proposes 'Herculean Effort' to Save 74 Remaining Southern Resident Orcas

With only 74 left in the wild, the Southern Resident orca population in Puget Sound needs help now more than ever. That's why on Thursday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's office announced "an unprecedented investment" to help boost the population as well as the Chinook salmon they eat.

"We are undertaking a herculean effort to save these iconic creatures. It will take action at every level of the environment across our entire state," Inslee said in a news release. "We need to restore the ecosystem to one that sustains orcas, salmon and the quality of life for all Washingtonians."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Amber Lamoreaux / Pexels

Major UK Supermarket to Ban Glitter From Own-Brand Products

British supermarket Waitrose announced Friday that it will ban glitter from its own-brand products by Christmas 2020.

The upscale retailer said its labels, wrap, flowers, plants and other single-use items will either be glitter-free or use an environmentally friendly alternative.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Natural pine trees can liven up Christmas and the environment when they are replanted after. Cavan Images / Getty Images

5 Ways to Have a Green Christmas (and Help the Planet)

It's pretty common this time of year to hear the song White Christmas, but at EcoWatch we want folks to have a green Christmas. With a couple of tips, you can make sure your winter festivities have a smaller carbon footprint. Here are five ways you can have a more environmentally friendly holiday.

1. Give Green Gifts
Share your love of the planet by giving gifts that are good for the environment. Need ideas? The EcoWatch staff rounded up their favorite gifts, and USA Today highlights items such as iTunes gift cards, reusable straws, organic wine and non-toxic cosmetics in their story about purchasing green presents.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Kingborough Council

Tasmania Builds Road From Single-Use Plastics, Glass and Printer Toner

A local government in Tasmania found a clever way to recycle single-use plastics and other landfill-bound waste by building a new road.

The 500-meter (1,640-foot) stretch outside the city of Hobart is made of approximately 173,600 plastic bags and packaging, as well as 82,500 glass bottle equivalents diverted from landfill, the Kingborough council announced Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
Alchemy Goods / Bambaw / LuminAID

EcoWatch's Favorite Green Gifts for the Holidays

The holidays are coming and if you're stuck on what to give your eco-conscious friend or relative, we've got you covered. At EcoWatch, we're big fans of homemade presents, products that actually help the planet, and putting our dollars towards a good cause. This year, our staff has rounded up some of the best green gifts we've given and received, as well as the items on our wish list.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Senate Approves Farm Bill

By Dan Nosowitz

The Farm Bill, which is supposed to be passed about every five years but which has for the past few been substantially delayed, finally saw the Senate floor Thursday, where it passed by a vote of 87 to 13.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Mtwrighter / CC BY-SA 4.0

Most Diverse Butterfly Center in the U.S. to be Bulldozed for Trump’s Border Wall

The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas is the most diverse butterfly sanctuary in the U.S. Some 200 species of butterflies find a home there each year, including the Mexican bluewing, the black swallowtail and the increasingly imperiled monarch. And, as soon as February, almost 70 percent of it could be lost to President Donald Trump's border wall, The Guardian reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!