Hydropower projects in Balkan lynx habitat cancelled

A Balkan lynx in the forest

Feb 6, 2017

The Balkan lynx can breathe easier: one of Europe’s oldest protected areas, Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia, is safe after international banks axed two potentially disastrous hydropower projects. The dams would have flooded the critically endangered lynx’s habitat.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) pulled out of financing the “Boskov Most” project on January 24. The World Bank had already dropped the “Lukovo Pole” project in December 2015. Both projects had been on a shaky footing due to their inadequate environmental impact assessments. Conservationists had been fighting the planned dams for years: in 2015, Rainforest Rescue submitted a petition with nearly 100,000 signatures to the EBRD, World Bank and Macedonian prime minister calling for the cancellation of the projects. 

Mavrovo National Park is a biodiversity hotspot in southeastern Europe and one of the oldest protected areas on the continent. The mountainous landscape with its forests, rivers and streams is home to bears, otters, wolves, rare species of fish and a very special animal: the Balkan lynx, a critically endangered subspecies of the Eurasian lynx. Only around fifty survive, most of them in Mavrovo National Park.