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The Vjosa River at a Crossroad – Dam Tsunami or National Park? A boy slaps a horse to get it into the fast-moving waters of the Vjosa River to swim it to the other side in May 2016. Of these, around 200 new projects have been finished and another 113 are under construction. “It’s a binary decision. All experts were amazed by the complexity and sheer size of the river system and every expertise found something at the Vjosa – species, habitat types, dynamic river processes – that has been long lost on all regulated rivers … +++ Impacts of hydropower projects for nature, people and coastal region to be calculated +++The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), together with the Polytechnic University of Tirana, have started an assessment of the sediment transport in the Vjosa river in Albania. The Vjosa river runs through the forest-covered slopes of Greece’s Pindus mountains to Albania’s Adriatic coast. o Vjosa and its tributaries are an unique ecosystem of European importance. Strong political lobbies of the EU, academics, scientists of well-known international and domestic universities, the diplomatic corps, etc., have continuously demanded from the Albanian governments the protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPPs. “This is the last big free flowing river [system] in Europe,” Rozman tells TIME, the day before the protest on May 20. The data was presented at the International Forum on Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Vjosa River Basin organized by Konfindustria. According to data published by ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’, a campaign launched by two international NGOs, the Albanian government plans to build over 400 hydropower plants across the country, including eight dams on the Albanian stretch of the Vjosa River and 23 hydropower plants on its tributaries [3]. “Even without considering environmental impacts, big dams are bad business,” says Flyvbjerg, “and if you include the environmental impacts, that conclusion would be even worse.”, Read More: Germany’s Nuclear Cutback Is Darkening European Skies. Today, the international NGOs Riverwatch and EuroNatur, together with their local partner EcoAlbania, are presenting a paper, which for the first time reveals the full extent of the threat to the Vjosa catchment area. The Aoös (Greek: Αώος) or Vjosë (Albanian: [ˈvjɔsə]) is a river in northwestern Greece and southwestern Albania. The area has mostly been drained and the Vjosa is used for irrigation, built during the Communist era. 8 dams are planned along the Vjosa itself while 23 additional HPPs are projected on its tributaries – 4 of which are already finished while another 4 are under construction. It will give you 99 percent of what you would have gotten.”, Regardless, construction of the Pocem dam will probably go ahead, according to Dedej, from the environment ministry. Wind farms are smart scaling,” he says. To take the French example, on the country's rivers and streams are (totally or partially) blocked every 6 km in average [1] [2] whereas most of them do not have a known use [3] . “Climate change is a serious concern for a country like Albania and that needs to be taken into account when planning further renewable energy resources,” says Denk. o Vjosa is the last big free-flowing river left in Europe. But as development moves ahead, the economic, social and even environmental drawbacks are casting a black shadow over the green boom. Vjosa is considered an asset not only of Albania, but of the whole of Europe due to its extraordinary natural resources, Konfindustria noted. There is much at stake, as Balkan rivers are some of Europe’s last wild waterways. The construction of hydropower plants (HPP) on Vjosa River is estimated to causes an economic damage of not less than Euro 550 million in of Albania, the confederation of Albanian industries, Konfindustria, said on Sunday, citing studies of some of the most specialized international institutions. The protection of the Vjosa River from the construction of HPP dams has practically become one of the important unwritten conditions for the continuation of the political process of Albania's EU integration, Konfindustria said in a press release. The Kalivac dam project is the biggest threat to this ecosystem – a project with a dam wall of approximatively 50 meters high, that would destroy the Vjosa in one blow. The EBRD has directly or indirectly financed between 16 and 19 projects in protected areas, the bank tells TIME, adding that the projects in protected areas have not had a significant impact. The Vjosa is reputed to be the last big wild river in Europe, outside Russia. The river Vjosa is the location of a large dam project that will threaten the whole area, destroying the homes and farmland of people that have lived there for generations. The slogan “Vjosa No Dams” was displayed in large letters on the grass as singers in traditional dress welcomed the kayakers. The abolition of HPP projects on Vjosa River will create the conditions for the safe withdrawal of hundreds of millions of Euro of international funding. The Vjosa river in Albania is one of the last wild rivers in Europe. The river runs 272 km (169 miles) from the mountains of northern Greece through Albania, and is the last undammed river system in all of Europe outside of the scantly-populated Russian Arctic. Refusing to grant permit for the Kalivaç hydropower dam, Albanian politicians spoke out in favor or proclamating Vjosa National Park, the first European wild river national park. Vjosa –Europe´s first Wild River National Park". Encouraging the villagers to fight for the beauty of the valley and the river, Ulrike Lunacek, the European Parliament vice president, said Albania was a candidate to join the EU and must respect its environmental rules. “There is a lot of corruption inside of this process.”, Read More: Why Climate Change Could Hurt Power Production. The area is rich farmland, fed with minerals and sediment from the free flowing Vjosa River. O n a blue-sky day on the Vjosa River, a kayak glides by a dam construction site at Kalivac, a small town in a wild Albanian valley filled with hidden mom-and-pop marijuana fields. Albania is looking to dam the Vjosa, Europe's last wild river, in an effort to develop clean power. The Kalivaç project was the first hydropower plant that was issued on the Vjosa river in 1997. Along its entire course of over 270 kilometers – from its source in the Greek mountains to the Adriatic Sea – it is untamed and free flowing. Its drainage basin is 6,706 km (2,589 sq mi) and its average discharge is 195 m /s (6,900 cu ft/s). We are still on level 0, even -1, at the moment.” But the people from Kuta, a village deeply rooting in agriculture, won’t stop fighting for their way of life. 2018 is the last chance to save the Vjosa River. The construction of the dam … Albania’s government has set in motion plans to dam the Vjosa … Big dams are dumb scaling. 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