The three organisations that started the Free Rivers Fund will not be included in the grant programm 2019. Each of them has decided that it is time to give their share to new grassroot projects.
In 2016, WET - Wildwasser Erhalten Tirol, Save the Conwy and the Balkan Rivers Tour started the Free Rivers Fund in order to involve the kayaking community in river protection and to provide a simple way for small projects to receive support. All three of them started with nothing but their motivation and determination, as do most river conservation activists. To date, they have all helped their rivers in a significant way, they have grown stronger and built up networks.
The Balkan Rivers Tour has evolved from a tour into a movement. Now named Balkan River Defence (BRD) they are linking small anti-dam initiatives all over the Balkans.
Four years ago, 2014, WET - Wildwasser Erhalten Tirol only got involved in the very last minute in the Environmental Impact Assesment of the Sellrain-Silz hydro power plant project. Back then, the project was almost decided on - right now it is still being dealt with in court and Ruetz river in Stubai valley can still be kayaked.
Save the Conwy kept their river in Wales running free. In 2016 the plans of building a 5MW hydro power scheme here were dropped. But the team did not stop working and now they continue as Save Our Rivers (SOR) to protect the streams and rivers of Snowdonia national park.
Time for young projects!
So from next year onward, BRD, SOR and WET can still apply for funding - but they are not automatically included in the grants anymore. This way they are helping small projects to get started and to hopefully grow as strong and successful as they are!