(2016 ☆ ARCHIVED) Rok Rozman - Project Balkan Rivers Tour

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BALKAN RIVERS TOUR - Nominee for the 2016 'Foundation' award.

The Balkan Rivers Tour (BRT) aims to raise awareness about ‘the dam craze’ in the Balkans and bring people together to help stop it. BRT aims to help preserve rivers in the Balkans so that they remain as pristine functioning ecosystems and can continue to be used by all. The campaign is lead by former Slovenian Olympic rower, biologist and pro kayaker Rok Rozman.

According to BRT, ‘2,700 dam projects are planned to be built within the next years…113 dams are foreseen inside national parks’

The project involved river users from across the globe (18 nations) paddling 23 rivers in 39 days in six Balkan countries. With 500 paddlers, more than 1.500 protesters and 39 days of program this was the biggest river conservation action in Europe. They started on the Sava River in Slovenia and finished on the Vjosa in Albania, between the 16th April - 20th May 2016. On the Vjosa they held a flotilla event and wanted to hand over a kayak petition to the Albanian Prime Minister, who didnt show up but did a big favor to movement with this as he exposed the gap between people that care about rivers and ones that only see the money. The petition was a whitewater kayak covered in signatures. Even the European Parliament has called on Albania to control the development of hydropower plants in environmentally sensitive areas.

BRT brought together many communities, including kayakers, anglers, hikers and local businesses. To engage the community they had picnics, movies screenings, art projects, competitions, photo exhibitions and group discussions. The tour had the extra benefits of promoting local cultures and sustainable tourism, based around functioning ecosystems.

Eleven separate ‘events’ were held, all focused around river trips but also including more formal press releases, petitions, photo shoots and protests.

Protests included a collection of 200 people protesting the construction of the hydropower plant ‘Medna’ on the Sana River in Bosnia by the company KELAG. The Sana is one of the last remaining habitats of the Huchen fish, a globally threatened species.

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Another protest was held against the construction of dams inside the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia, which would be a serious threat to the survival of the Balkan Lynx due to destruction of its habitat for infrastructure. After the protest it was discovered that the license granted by the Macedonian Ministry of Environment for the hydropower project Boskov Most was illegal, jeopardising funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

A simple video promoting the final event on the Vjosa River was viewed over eighteen thousand times in its four days on Facebook, showing the resonance the movement has had with people locally and world wide.

BRT is collaborating with the 'Save the Blue Heart of Europe Campaign' coordinated by international NGOs EuroNatur and Riverwatch. BRT is run by  Leeway Collective and supported by WWF Adria, Patagonia, Sandiline, Ortlieb, Pyranha kayaks, AT paddles and many others.

Many actions are planned in next years, among them release of full length documentary The Undamaged in October 2016, here is the trailer https://vimeo.com/172972837.

BRT upholds key values championed by the ‘Foundation Award’ such as responsibility, accountability, integrity, fairness and good sportsmanship.

This is a 2016 archived nominee. Voting has closed.

You - the Public - can vote for this nominee below by ‘liking’ (Facebook button) or clicking Google+. You can also click the big black 'thumbs up' button if you do not have a social media account. You can tweet to show your support but the number of tweets do not count. More information about the voting procedure here.

 

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