Report Open Access

The River Vjosa – A Baseline Survey on Biodiversity, Potential Impacts and Legal Framework for Hydropower Development

Meulenbroek, Paul; Egger, Gregory; Trautner, Jürgen; Drescher, Anton; Randl, Marlene; Hammerschmied, Urban; Wilfling, Olivia; Schabuss, Michael; Horst, Zornig; Graf, Wolfram

Schiemer, Fritz; Beqiraj, Sajmir; Miho, Aleko; Pail, Wolfgang; Bego, Ferdinand; Rabl, Dominik; Paparisto, Anila; Rabitsch, Wolfgang; Olivier, Anthony; Fontes, Hugo; Komnenov, Marjan; Shuka, Lulëzim; Duda, Michael; Wagner, Herbert Christian; Shumka, Spase; Eisner, Josef

This report summarizes the value of the river Vjosa system as one of the few remaining reference sites for dynamic floodplains in Europe. The morphological floodplain of the Vjosa is characterized by an exceptionally high near-nature status, hence representing an extreme rare reference site for medium sized rivers in Europe. The high values of habitats listed in the EU Habitat Directive underscore its value on an international scale. These protected habitats provide the basis for a highly endangered fauna and flora. More than 1100 documented species, including high numbers and vital populations of protected and endangered species listed in national and international laws and conventions highlight the significance of this natural environment on an international scale. The investigations carried out so far were timely limited and reveal a snapshot only. More intense inter- and multidisciplinary studies would be a prerequisite for the in-depth evaluation of potential impacts caused by hydropower plants. Anyhow, the present study represents a sound baseline survey listing the presently documented fauna and flora, their status, future developments under the prospected stressor of a Hydropower Plant (HPP) and includes national and international Guidelines and Directives.

In summary three main arguments are raised against the proposal of a hydropower plant, such as HPP Kalivaç, at the river Vjosa.

  • The project will degrade the extremely high ecological value of the entire River Vjosa from the Delta to the upstream areas of the planned dam significantly.
  • The planned project contradicts clearly the concept of a sustainable development also in an economical perspective.
  • Within the planned project violations of international and national laws are clearly identified.
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