The lynx does not want a dam!

One of the oldest national parks in Europe is under attack. Macedonia intends to build two large hydropower plants in the habitat of the last remaining population of the Balkan lynx. If the projects go ahead as foreseen, it may go extinct. Call on the banks and the Macedonian Prime Minister to scrap the projects!

Scrap the plans for hydropower plants in Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia

A Balkan lynx in the forest Dam projects threaten the Mavrovo National Park and the last remaining population of the Balkan lynx. (photo: Joachim Flachs)

The Mavrovo National Park is one of Europe’s oldest national parks. Bears, wolves, otters, and rare fish species roam freely in its mountainous landscape, primeval forests and numerous creeks and rivers. One species is outstanding, however: the Balkan lynx. Only about 50 of these animals are believed have survived to this day. Mavrovo National Park is the center of this remaining population and the only place where it is still known to procreate successfully.

If we don’t act immediately, the Balkan lynx is likely to go extinct. Two large hydropower plants are slated to be built in the middle of the national park. Being sold to the public as green sources of energy, the World Bank and the EBRD intend to support the projects with a total of EUR 135 million. They are thereby financing the destruction of the national park and the extermination of the Balkan lynx. 

“Mavrovo hosts [...] the last source of population with reproduction of the Balkan lynx [...]. Putting any additional stress on this source population may lead to the extinction of one of the most threatened mammal populations in Europe,” says Dr. Urs Breitenmoser, Co-Chair, IUCN-SSC Cat Specialist Group.

“These projects are not only threatening to destroy this particular national park, they undermine the very idea of national parks,” warns Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of the Foundation for Conservation EuroNatur. “If we do not even succeed in protecting nature and biodiversity in national parks, do we stand a chance to preserve it anywhere else?” Riverwatch CEO Ulrich Eichelmann adds. 

It is unlikely that the Macedonian government will be capable of realizing these projects without the World Bank’s and EBRD’s financial aid. Take action and call on the banks to refuse funding and the Macedonian Prime Minister to scrap the projects.


The Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia is one of Europe’s oldest national parks. It stretches over an area of 73,000 hectares and is located in Western Macedonia, sharing a border with Kosovo and Albania. 

Two major hydropower projects are putting the park at risk:

1. Boskov Most Hydropower Project

  • Dam height: 33 m
  • Output: 68 MW
  • Max daily flush: 22 m³/s in 5h per day (average discharge of Mala Reka: 5.75 m³/s)
  • Construction/widening of new roads: 16.4 km
  • New supply channels: 19.70 km
  • Directly affected area inside Mavrovo NP: 935 ha
  • Investment: EUR 84 million, EUR 65 million provided by a EBRD loan

2. Lukovo Pole Hydropower Project
  • Dam height: 71 m
  • Output: 6 MW,  estimated at 159 GWh per year with respect to additional benefits from existing HPPs
  • Max daily flush: 6 m³/s
  • Construction/widening of roads: > 20 km road widening and paving
  • New supply channels: 19.95 km
  • Directly affected area inside Mavrovo NP: 3,546 ha
  • Investment: EUR 83 million, EUR 70 million provided by a World Bank loan

More information at http://www.balkanrivers.net/en/key-areas/mavrovo-national-park

 

Dear Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, dear Ellen Goldstein, dear Sir Suma Chakrabarti,

You are intending to support the construction of two large hydropower plants in Mavrovo National Park, Macedonia – one of the oldest national parks in Europe.

Both projects undermine the very idea of national parks, in which the protection of nature must be the top priority and commercial exploitation must be strictly prohibited. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN), the construction of the dams may put Mavrovo’s status as a national park at risk.

Furthermore, these projects are endangering numerous animal and plant species, including the Balkan lynx – a critically endangered subspecies of the Eurasian lynx. The Mavrovo National Park is the only area in which the Balkan Lynx is still known to procreate successfully. According to IUCN experts, the projected hydro power plants and the disruption caused by necessary infrastructure (new roads, supply channels, etc.) are likely to result in the Balkan Lynx’s extinction.

Thus, we kindly request the EBRD and the World Bank not to take part in the destruction of the Mavrovo National Park and the extermination of the Balkan lynx and instead to decline financing these damaging projects. We urge you, Prime Minister, to abandon the plans for these projects and instead safeguard Mavrovo’s status as a national park and arrange for its sustainable management. Thank you.

Kind regards,