We proudly present – the Free Rivers Fund Grantees 2021!
With another record number of applications it gets harder and harder to chose every year. We will continue to work on obtaining more funds to be able to give out as many grants as possible! For 2021 we have chosen six grantees in total, thereof three new ones and three of the projects from 2020 with whom we will continue the support.
New projects 2021
One of the new ones is “Wolne Rzeki” from Poland – they are protecting a number of pristine rivers, established a small nature reserve, are mapping and measuring artificial barriers and are working on weir removal – their goal for 2021 is the removal of first barriers – and of course that is music to our ears. We are excited they found us and we are able to support them in their work!
We will support another activist from Poland: Mateusz Mazur, a grassroots activists working alongside the WWF Polska River Keepers. He is fighting for the Łomnica River, which is only 20 km long but has 165 barriers! He has cataloged and described them all by himself, he monitors this one and other rivers, reports pollution and illegal activities on rivers, tracks migration barriers and educates the public. His main goal for 2021 is to take action to remove a few migration barriers in the estuary section – again, music to our ears and we are happy to be able to support him in his work.
The third new grantee this year is the organisation “Sharawatch”, an organisation fighting against mini hydropower plants on the rivers Lepenac, Durlov and Kaludjerka in Kosovo as well as camapaigning against any constructions in the Shara National park.
We will continue the support of TOKA in Albania who have been and are still fighting the 14 (fourteen!) proposed dams in the beautiful Valbona valley since 2016. We have been very impressed with their organisation and their work so far and our heart goes out to the unique and pristine Valbona river.
We will also continue the support of the project “Save the Heart of Kendal“. These activists are fighting against the construction of a large dam as part of a proposed Flood Risk Management Scheme and are campaigning for a Natural Flood Management Scheme in the river Kent catchment. They managed to stirr up a lot of attention and people last year and we are happy to continue our support and are rooting for them to succeed!
Another grantee from 2020 we will continue to support is “God Save Rzav” from Serbia. In 2020 they managed to stop the issuing of permits for the construction of 18 small hydroelectric power plants in the Municipality of Arilje in Serbia as well as initiated the decision against issuing permits for small HPP in Uzice and Pozega. What a win! For 2021 they plan to do the same for another four neighbouring municipalities and also influence them to ban the issuance of permits for small HPP and thus protect the rivers in all of Western Serbia from the construction of hydropower plants . They also aim to bring together rafting clubs and activists from across the region to protest against the 2700 (!) planned small hydropower plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia and Albania. We are happy to able to support them and are excited to see what they will achieve!
As you see, the grantees of 2021 are not as international as usual. This is partly due to the fact that we have not gotten a lot of international applications. If you want to change that, help us make the Free Rivers Fund more popular and spread the word to people that could need our help! Furthermore this year we have gotten a high percentage of applications that did not really fit our aim – direct action for free flowing rivers. If we manage to obtain more funding this year we might open up our criteria to also accomodate more diverse river conservation work – stay tuned! If you want to know more about the decision process and the challenge of granting continue readinge here.