Last year the Free Rivers Fund cooperated with the Montenegrin NGO "Ekološki Pokret Donja Bukovica" (Environmental Movement Donja Bukovica). When they applied for support in autumn 2018 they already had quite some struggle behind them and a number of achievements to be proud of. Between 2017 and 2019 they developed from a small group of determined locals into an internationally recognised and impressively successful movement. We'd like to summarise their story.
Bukovica river threatened
Bukovica river flows through a valley where in summer only about 200 people live, in winter even less. On the small river, two mini hydro power plants were planned that would have diverted the water from the local river, leaving the riverbed almost empty. The community of the valley was fearing for their drinking water and ecological destruction of Bukovica and formed the NGO "Environmental movement Donja Bukovica" in autumn 2017. Right away they were woking in all possible legal ways: they organised demonstrations, invited international scientists, brought their issue up in national and international media (e.g. read on dw.com in English and German) and in autumn 2018 also met up with the Balkan River Defence during BRT4.
After that, in October 2018, they applied for FRF support.
Saving Bukovica last minute
In spring 2019 the struggle intensified when an access road to one of the construction sites was build. The locals started to block the machines and hindered them from starting construction works for more than a month in May and June. Finally, the government suspended the works to reconsider the hydro schemes. By October 2019, the investors withdrew and removed all machinery.
"We think we won, but we'll stay alert. We are waiting for an official document to confirm this. But we achieved a great result.", Marija Vemic of the "Environmental movement Donja Bukovica" says.