Branka Buric 0

Against bulding dams on the Moraca river (Montengro)

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The Government of Montenegro is planning to develop several large hydropower plants on the River Morača. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and their numerous local and international partners have been closely following this issue for the last three years and are very concerned, since there is evidence that these dams will have significant impacts on downstream Lake Skadar, a major wetland in the Balkans, which is protected under the Ramsar Convention, as well as on two canyons of high biodiversity value in the affected riverbed, some of which are listed in the Emerald network under the Bern Convention. Despite the concerns raised by several stakeholders, including WWF, on the sustainability of this large hydropower scheme, the Government of Montenegro seems to have decided to proceed with the project, still not taking into account basic international standards, including the EU legal framework, even ignoring in some cases national law and other evidence that this project is far from being environmentally sustainable, socially acceptable and cost-effective. (WWF) 130 bird species have been registered in the Morača canyon, of which 127 species have a protected species status (42% of the total number of protected bird species in Montenegro), 84 are confirmed to breed in the canyon while for 10 species the breeding has not been confirmed. This accounts for 46% of the total number of breeders in Montenegro (Puzović et al, 2004). Of the total number of species found in Morača canyon 98% (127 species) has either a national or international protection status, namely: 24 species are listed in Annex I of the EU Bird Directive, 67 Species are of European Conservation Concern (SPEC), 23 are Emerald species, 72 species are listed in Annex II of the BernConvention, 46 in Annex II of the Bonn Convention, 14 species are listed in the CITES Convention and 7 species are listed in the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). Monastery Moraca from the 13th century is another object of cultural heritage that would be swept off the face of the earth in the case dams are built. There is no doubt that the creators of this suspicious deal in the government will make large profit. After their failed attempt to build a dam on the UNESCO protected Tara canyon, the government has decided to sacrifice another nature's jewel. The Italian electric power company who recently acquired the local electric power company (in yet another suspicious privatization deal that is now waiting to be resolved in the international court in Strasburg) is the main profiteer in this case. The energy thus produced will be transported to Italy, and is much cheaper for the company’s owners than investing into alternative sources of energy, to which the EU is highly committed. Another (non)surprising element of this story is the fact that that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has not been done for this project. Montenegro’s population of only 600,000 people does not have a say in this. The most ironic thing is that Montenegro declared itself an "ecologic state" in the early 90ties, and is now on its way to join the EU! It is a place of unique natural beauty that has been preserved intact for generations. However, a small group of people are planning to change this and ‘’cash’’ the environment at the expense of all of us. The cases like this, where the suspicious deals between local governments and large international companies in which natural resources are heavily exploited at the expense of future and present generations are largely seen in Africa. Is there a way to end this behaviour? Let's pioneer the practice in which in order to do something like this the decision makers should at least start taking into account some basic standards of environmental protection. Please sign this petition and forward it to everyone you know, and save one of the rapidly despairing jewels of nature. Hurry up please because the construction is planned to start in May 2011. We need one million signatures by end of January 2011. Thank you!


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