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The Berne Convention will monitor the Skavica project for possible violations

The Berne Convention will monitor the Skavica project for possible violations

The Berne Convention*, at its April meeting, has decided to monitor the Skavicë HPP and to ask the Albanian government to respond to the following common concerns:

– The Skavicë HPP on the Black Drini River could affect a potential area of ​​the Emerald Network and also numerous species protected in the Berne Convention, which Albania has ratified into law.

– Of particular concern is the critically endangered Balkan Lynx and its migratory corridors. The Berne Convention has pointed out that the Skavica HPP project conflicts with the Lynx Recovery Project, in which Albania was the main proponent for listing the Balkan lynx as a strictly protected species.

- The Berne Convention Bureau also emphasized that the project could affect three important lakes of the Western Balkans, including the lakes of Ohrid and Shkodra.

- An issue that requires close monitoring is the compilation of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the Skavica HPP, which is still not finalized.

- Finally, the Bureau noted the protection of large carnivorous animals, which are also affected by the Skavica HPP.

The Berne Convention has required Albania to apply the principle of prevention during the current first phase of the project. This means not developing projects that could negatively affect the habitats and species of Albania and the territory of the Bern Convention.

"We must move away from the false notion that hydropower is 'renewable' energy as it permanently destroys freshwater ecosystems and causes significant environmental damage to all life, including humans," said Grant Wilson, Executive Director, Land Legal Center.

"We are pleased that the Bureau has taken our complaint seriously and we particularly applaud their support for the precautionary principle in their latest update."

"We also want to emphasize that we cannot sacrifice nature and ecosystems for false solutions, such as the dam in Skavica, in the name of saving the same nature from the climate crisis, caused mainly by the destruction of ecosystems itself - that the dam will brought We need to look for solutions that serve and preserve all life and not create sacrifice zones", says Zoe Lujic, Executive Director of Earth Thrive.

"There has been a growing opposition to the Skavica Dam, a movement to protect the Drin river, the flora, the fauna, because our life and livelihood depends on the existence of the Black Drin river. The protests for the protection of Black Drin and Dibra will continue, as we continue our legal fight to protect the rights of the Dibra community in the same way we fight to protect the rights of Black Drin. Science has proven that hydropower destroys physical river changes, resulting in fragmented habitats, reduced biodiversity, endangered fish populations, preserves sediments and nutrients that are essential for downstream ecosystem health, and exacerbates climate change. We call on legislators and the scientific community to find alternative sources, including solar energy and wind energy," says Ferzileta Gjika, founder of the movement Opposing Skavica Dam.

The reaction of the Convention comes after an official complaint directed in January by a coalition of NGOs, consisting of Earth Law Center - USA, Earth Thrive - UK, Skavica Dam Opposition - OSD (Albania), Group of Rural Activists of Dibra - GARD (Albania), North Green Association (Albania), and GLV Integrimi (Albania), regarding the Skavica Hydropower Project (HEC).

After an in-depth visit to the affected project area and consultation with project stakeholders, it was observed that the Skavica HPP destroys protected habitats and, more specifically, violates articles 2, 3.1, 3.2., 4.1 and 10.1 of Berne Convention. The complaint provided ample evidence that the authorities, in connection with this project, have failed to take the necessary administrative actions to protect the species and habitats (listed in Appendices I and II and Resolutions No. 4 [1996] & No. 6 [1998]), and for the fact that the Black Drin river should be declared an Emerald country according to the 2011 Biogeographical Seminar./ Monitor

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