WWF Romania National Campaign – “Mountain rivers: the last chance”

WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is one of nature’s most trusted friends, and since 1961, it has been undertaking countless worldwide campaigns aimed at preserving the environment, in over one hundred countries on five continents.

In Romania, many of these projects have been met with success, bringing together ordinary people, eager to volunteer in order to preserve elements of nature, WWF specialists and local communities. WWF began its activity in Romania in 2006, and its objective here is to preserve the wilderness of the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube. Its projects focus on preserving woodlands, protecting brown bears, the Danube Delta and the sturgeons. In addition, it aims to encourage the transition towards a “green economy” and to develop an environmental education programme for young people.

From now on, WWF Romania will promote a remarkable campaign which seeks to protect the hydrographical systems of the Carpathian region and invites us to support it. This campaign is built around the idea of raising awareness about the negative effects on biodiversity and local communities caused by the chaotic construction of micro-hydroelectric power stations (building micro-hydroelectric power stations on rivers with a significant ecological value leads to a neglect of biodiversity by ignoring the risks and the cumulative impact brought by constructing these installations without a thorough planning).

The “Mountain rivers: the last chance” campaign focuses its efforts on changing the legislation, by means of public pressure, which requires informing and educating the population.

This campaign tells us that, although useful and non-polluting, these micro-hydroelectric power stations are more and more frequently being built on rivers in the mountainous area of Romania, even though our country has already fulfilled its commitment towards the European Union to produce 24% of its energy from renewable sources. Even though they seem harmless for the environment, an increasing number of micro-hydroelectric stations are built close to protected areas or even inside them (300 have been approved for construction without a prior planning at the river basin level or at a regional level), thus modifying, through the mere change of the hydrological regime in their proximity, an important part of the biodiversity found in these protected areas. We are also informed that micro-hydro electrical power stations can cause irreversible damage to the habitat of certain species, by fragmenting the habitat, and that the investments made in building such projects are not environmentally sound. By affecting the valleys and the slopes through their existence, and also because of the extensive network of pipes used to transport water, these stations destroy the environmental balance of rivers by affecting their natural flow.

Modelled after the “Save the virgin forests” campaign of 2011, the goal of this campaign is to create public pressure on the authorities, in order to amend the legislation and to enforce a more thorough process of authorization for future projects, which should include the following aspects:   

- Defining no-go areas (areas were construction is prohibited);

- Establishing a nation-wide set of criteria for planning the construction.

The campaign will last between November and December 2013 and shall involve a number of partners: environmental NGOs, media partners, WWF ambassadors, fishermen’s associations, educational institutions and mountaineering and tourism clubs.   

Anyone can become involved, by spreading electronic newsletters, on-line banners or by organising networks on social media sites discussing this campaign. For more information, the campaign website (www.raurileromaniei.ro), the link to the press release announcing the start of the campaign (http://romania.panda.org/?212356/Rauri-de-munte-sau-microhidrocentrale-inutile ) and the on-line article “7 Myths about hydro-electric power” (http://romania.panda.org/resurse/publicatii/7_mituri_despre_hidroenergie/) will help you better understand the requirements and the objectives of this campaign and will give you the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers on this topic.

Greenly Magazine supports the campaign “Mountain rivers: the last chance”…Join us!

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Article written by Gabriela Moroșanu and translated by Mihail Mitoșeriu

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