The Government of North Macedonia revoked seven concessions for small hydroelectric plants in the newly proclaimed Shar Mountains national park. It is the first decision of the kind in the country and a good precedent for the protection of rivers, waters, and coasts, environmental activists said.
The Government of North Macedonia “delivered a very important and potentially revolutionary decision,” environmental research and information center Eko-svest said in a press release.
Clean, free-flowing rivers are of the utmost importance for healthy ecosystems, the organization added.
The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has decided to revoke seven concessions for small hydroelectric power plants in the Shar Mountains national park. Environmentalists remarked it could be a turning point for the protection of nature and rivers. The range is also called Šar planina, Šara and Malet e Sharrit.
It is a possible turning point for the protection of nature and rivers
The decision is significant for protecting the locations of great importance for the aquatic and riparian biodiversity at the Shar Mountains, Eko-svest pointed out.
Small hydropower plant projects there could be finished, but it is only one protected area in North Macedonia under threat. The environmental activists stressed the situation in the Mavrovo national park needs to be considered.
“This decision of the government shows that we can’t ignore the scientific knowledge about the huge negative impacts of the small hydropower plants in the protected areas. However, this is only the first step. In NP Mavrovo there are issued concessions that must be revoked as soon as possible, to enable sustainable and integrated management of the park,” stated Gjorgji Mitrevski from Eko-svest.
Mitrevski: Concessions for the Mavrovo national park must be revoked as soon as possible
Small hydropower plants cause irreparable damage to river ecosystems, therefore they must be banned in the protected areas, activists warn.
“In our legislation, but also through the international conventions that we have ratified, we have strong mechanisms at our disposal that, if properly applied, can help us to have clean and free-flowing healthy rivers throughout the country,” said Ana Colovic Lesoska from Eko-svest.
Colović Lesoska: In legislation, but also through international conventions that we have ratified, we have strong mechanisms for river protection at our disposal
She highlighted the significance of rivers to the local communities, the importance of preserving biodiversity, and the unique landscapes that rivers have created for thousands of years.
Eko-svest called on the ministry to revoke concessions for small hydroelectric plants in the Mavrovo national park as well.
National parks and protected areas are crucial for the protection and conservation of biodiversity. They have an invaluable role in maintaining and improving groundwater protection, air quality, and drinking water quality, said Eko-svest, which recently marked 20 years of work.