Rights for Doljanka River in the Blue Heart of Europe

Reader Contribution by Darlene May Lee and Earth Law Center
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Source: Doljanka River by Anes Podic

The Bosnia River Action Network Advocacy (BRANA) in Bosnia and Herzegovina https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosnia_and_Herzegovina, seeks recognition of rights for the beautiful Doljanka River, one of the few wild rivers left in Europe which is now being threatened by a hydropower plant. Members include Earth Law Center, Eko akcija (“eco action”) and Gotusa

The Blue Heart of Europe

Source: By NordNordWest [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The blue heart of Europe refers to the wild rivers that still exist, primarily in the Balkans. Over 80% of these vital lifelines are still healthy. By comparison, only 10 percent of Germany’s rivers is still classified as near-natural, whereas 60 percent are heavily regulated

A documentary produced by the firm Patagonia, Blue Heart highlights how 3,000 hydropower plants planned across the Balkans will destroy the last wild rivers in Europe. Dams destroy rivers. Activism on the ground grows. EcoAlbania won its first court case against one of the largest approved dam projects. Local communities in other parts of the Balkans are fighting back as well

Three-quarters of the rivers in the Balkans are so ecologically valuable that they should be completely off-limits for hydropower development, according to a recent assessment.

Destruction of the Doljanka River

Financed by the former NBA Player Mirza Teletovi?, construction and development teams started destroying the river banks in order to lay 1.8 meter diameter pipes at a pace of 100 feet a day, according to Anes Podic, of Eko Akcija (Eco Action) in Bosnia. They have obtained an environmental permit based on flawed impact studies.

”This is just the latest example – we now see and hear almost weekly of the Balkans wild rivers being destroyed,” says Podic.

The sacrifice of the river isn’t even worth it. Most of the small hydro plants in the region produce no more than 1 megawatt (MW) each — roughly enough to power 750 homes, but environmentalists say they disrupt fish migration routes and pose a threat to dozens of species, including the Danube Salmon and Balkan Lynx.

“In a world in which the climate is changing, the value of hydro becomes more uncertain,”says Peter Gleick of the Oakland, California–based Pacific Institute. “We know that one of the worst impacts of climate change will be impacts on water—on droughts, on floods, on demand [via increased evaporation].” 

Source: Doljanka River by Anes Podic


With almost a decade of ethnic conflict behind them, the Balkans seek to rebuild their economies with the help of tourism, promoting their rich history while appealing to eco-tourists seeking wilderness adventures such as hiking, kayaking, white-water rafting and caving.

Call to Action to Defend Doljanka:

Watch the video.

Sign the petition.

Donate here.

More about partner organizations

Eko akcija, based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is working on pressing environmental problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina such as protection of its rich biodiversity, water supplies, air pollution, garbage disposal thru grassroots campaigns. They are founded by Green Visions who pioneered eco-tourism movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Gotusa are a grassroots community organizer from Fojnica and have been instrumental in the fight so far.

Earth Law Center works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. This includes advancing the inherent rights of rivers through initiatives with local partners to secure rights recognition.

Source:by eberhard grossgasteiger unsplash.com

Darlene May Lee is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, which works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. She works to build a force of advocates for nature’s rights at the local, state, national, and international levels. Connect with Earth Law Center on TwitterFacebookand LinkedIn. Read all of Darlene’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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