Journal

Save the Blue Heart of Europe

 

A fight for Europe's last wild rivers

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If you're an avid fan of Patagonia and everything they stand for like myself you may have heard about their latest #savetheblueheart campaign. If you haven't, it's not too late to get acquainted. 

It's no secret that Patagonia put significant effort into protecting our planet and its finite resources, their mission statement says it all... 

 

"Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

 

As a company, and strong community, they have fought tirelessly to protect our environment through brilliant, creative and evocative campaigns. They also donate 1% of all sales to grassroots charities every year through 1% for the planet. 1% for the Planet is an alliance of businesses that understand the necessity of protecting the natural environment. Patagonia, a still family owned company, have donated $89 million dollars so far. And now, they are taking on their first-ever Europe focused campaign #savetheblueheart which aims to stop the construction of over 3,000 dams on the Balkan Peninsula.

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The Balkan Peninsular is home to the last remaining wild rivers in Europe and is therefore a region rich in diverse cultures, languages and history. But, this well-balanced, harmonious ecosystem is under serious threat. More than 3,000 hydropower dams and diversions are either proposed or in the process of being built in the Balkans, in addition to the more than 1,000 that already exist. 

These dams, as we've seen happen many times before, will cause irreversible damage to the environment and its communities. 

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Not only do these magnificent channels of water provide life to the many communities hosted on their banks, they are also home to a diverse and truly unique array of wildlife. The Balkan rivers also host 69 species of fish that exist nowhere else in the world. No where. And, over 40% of all endangered freshwater mollusc species in Europe live in these rivers. These stats probably make the Balkan region the most important freshwater hotspot in Europe. There are up to 30 endangered species at risk including the Danube salmon. The Balkan lynx has also been found to be extremely vulnerable. 

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International banks, primarily through private investments, are funding the construction of these dams without giving a single thought to the disastrous impact their investments will have on the environment, its wildlife and its communities. It must stop. 

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When managed correctly hydropower can have its benefits and is one of the only renewable energy sources that can be controlled depending on the amounts of energy needed. But, in this case the detrimental effects the dams will have on the surrounding environment, as well as the displacement of whole communities, outweigh any positive benefits. Hyrdopower, especially at this scale is also far from being a 'clean' source of energy. 

 

"Hydropower is the only “renewable” energy source sending species to extinction, displacing people globally, and contributing to climate change."

 

Yes, the fact that we are a growing population in need of more energy comes to mind. But, The Balkan area are not in need of more energy, they are able to sustain their energy levels without these extra dams. These dams are purely a money making scheme fuelled by western investors. 

The fact that we are a growing population living on a planet of finite resources means we need to be smart about the way we live. Research is continually being done into less impactful forms of energy production such as wind, solar and geothermal all of which have significantly less impact than hydropower. 

Our ecosystems are so delicately balanced and we can't afford to mindlessly destroy them for short-term monetary gains. We need a healthy planet in order to survive and flourish as a species. 

Europe's last undammed river is in Albania. "Over 270 kilometers of Albania’s Vjosa River are untamed and free-flowing—including all of its tributaries. On the Vjosa and its tributaries, 38 hydropower dams are proposed." But, the Vjosa community, like many others, are not taking this lying down. They are fighting and they need all the support they can get. 

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That's where you come in... 

The petition

Patagonia's aim is to collect 1 billion signatures that they can use to deter western banks from investing in the barbaric destruction of Europe's last wild rivers. Each signature is one step closer to saving the communities that so heavily rely on the beautiful, free flowing, wild rivers of The Balkans. 

Find out more

As part of this campaign Patagonia have funded a new documentary that is being shown around the world including the UK. 

If you're keen to know more and see the film in full there will be viewings at the following venues:  

May 2nd - London, Crate Brewery - Tickets 

May 2nd - Manchester - Patagonia

May 19th - Hathersage - Outside 

May 24th - London - The Brokedown Palace 

May 24th - Chertsey-  Snow + Rock 

May 27th - Keswick-  George Fisher

June 28th - London - Farlows of Pall Mall

Watch the trailer...