The "Balkanka" Association is a Bulgarian non-profit, non-governmental organization that is trying to save and protect all Bulgarian rivers – the main objectives being the protection and conservation of river biodiversity in general, as well as the conservation and restoration of indigenous Balkan trout populations in particular. These are some steep goals and the members and friends of Balkanka have an incredible structured and organised approach in achieving them – they are fighting using scientific research, legal options, and trying to influence legislation.
Many projects at a time
Currently, one of the key ongoing initiatives of Balkanka is fighting against no less than 9 planned large hydropower projects and dams and several more small hydropower plants in Bulgaria. They also support the fight of local people against small hydropower projects in Serbia and Macedonia, as well as mining developments, planned channelization of different rivers and cases of illegal gravel abstractionas and riverbank deforestation. In addition to preventing the implementation of new hydropower projects, Balkanka is also monitoring already operating ones, trying to improve national legislation in the field of river ecosystem management and forcing its proper applying. Their association has inspired several scientific studies on hydropower impact on river ecosystems.
Does Balkanka work on someting more?
"Another very key initiative being in the very heart of Balkanka is to influence the young generation and disseminate the idea that the Nature and rivers are living ecosystems which need to be constantly protected and cared about. Each year we organize numerous events with partnering organizations and friends where we demonstrate our core values, influence local communities with our ideas and intensely disseminate the philosophy to care for our rivers and Nature and further protect their ecosystems. By partnering with a certified farm for indigenous Balkan trout, we have implemented lots of fish stocking activities demonstrating our constant effort to protect and further care about our rivers. Each year we are really excited to organize a green school event with young students (5 – 14 years old) where we demonstrate our core values – protecting the river ecosystems, fish stocking, fishing demonstration and a seminar for different species living in the river area.", they say.
And at state level…
Focused on proper implementation of the EU water and environmental protection legal framework, Balkanka has also managed to establish collaborations with Bulgarian states authorities responsible for water management and support them continuously with expertise and the results of their monitoring, aiming to reduce the adverse impacts on Bulgarian rivers constantly discovered.
The Free Rivers Fund is amazed by their expertise and their ambitious goals and is proud to support Balkanka in 2019!