Big kayak tour for preservation of Bakan rivers: Rows against dams

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On Saturday the 16th of April, more than a hundred rowers started rowing on river Sava which was the beginning of a kayak tour Balkan Rivers Tour.

With the leadership of former Slovenian olympian Rok Rozman kayakers from all over the Europe will be rowing for next 35 days on the most beautiful but also most endangered rivers on Balkan peninsula. This unique campaign, local and international organizations want to draw attention to enormous amount of dam and hydropower plants construction in area between Slovenia and Albania, where the construction of 2700 new hydropower plants is planned.

Before the official start of the Balkan Rivers Tour, kayakers gathered on Bohinjsko lake in Slovenia where they made a circle by kayaks around a message “Save our Rivers – stop the dams“. During next five weeks kayakers will row on 18 rivers in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Albania. On the road, they will organize several events in every country to support local initiatives that are fighting against the construction of the hydropower plants.

“This unique action will show that rivers of Balkan are much more than just a stock of megawatt hours. They are veins that create the living space and offer possibilities for recreation. We have to protect this natural herritage of global importance from the greed of the capital”, said Ulrich Eichelmann from Riverwatch, coordinator of the campaign Save the blue heart of the Europe.

Most of the plans hasn’t been realized yet, but it’s just a matter of time when the machines will start working.

“While I was a little kid my dream was to win an olympic medal. Now that I grew up, my dream became preservation of our rivers. I never won an olympic medal but I will save our rivers! I’m inviting kayakers from all over the Europe to join our tour and support our efforts”, said Rok Rozman, initiator and leader of the campaign Balkan Rivers Tour.

“We cannot ask from other, often less developed countries to protect their rivers, if we let our own hydroenergy lobby to destroy river Sava kilometer after kilometer”, said Neza Posnjak, coordinator of the campaign Save the blue heart of Europe in Slovenia.

Final act of the Balkan Rivers Tour will be giving the petition for preservation of river Vjosa to Albanian prime minister Edi Rama on 20th of May in Tirana. Vjosa was the last large wild river in Europe (outside of Russia), but several hydropower plants are planned to be built on it too.

“We want to prevent the construction of dams on Vjosa so we’re advocating the protection of all of the river within a national park. It would be the first park of that kind in Europe”, said Theresa Schiller, coordinator of the project in EuroNatur.

From Slovenia the Balkan Rivers Tour will move to Croatia, than B&H on rivers Sana and Neretva, and at the end of April it will arrive to Montenegro where kayakers will organize rowing on Moraca (28th and 29th of April) and tara (1st of May) along with organizers of rafting and kayaking in order to send a message that hydropowerplants are not in the best interest of local communities that live off of these rivers and their resources.

Source: Cafe Del Montenegro