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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.

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