The Standing Committee of the Berne Convention has asked the Government of North Macedonia to cancel the concession for the small hydropower plant Ribnička in the Mavrovo National Park, and to permanently prohibit the construction of hydropower plants and other infrastructure projects in protected areas, according to Environmental Research and Information Center Eko-svest.
Eko-svest filed a complaint to the Standing Committee of the Berne Convention ten years ago against the construction of hydropower plants in Mavrovo National Park. The complaint initiated the opening of an international case Development of hydropower projects on the territory of Mavrovo National Park.
The case has been open for almost ten years because the government is making little progress in complying with the committee’s recommendations, Eco-svest added.
The concessions for SHPPs Žirovnica 5 and 6 were terminated, but others were approved
At the last session, the committee noted that the government and the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning have made progress in securing the funds for the initiation of the process of re-proclamation of the Mavrovo National Park. The concessions for small hydropower plants (SHPPs) Žirovnica 5 and 6 in Mavrovo National Park have been canceled, but others have been approved.
The committee therefore reminded North Macedonia that it is necessary to abolish all hydropower plants in protected areas and asked the authorities to take a few other steps as well, the statement adds.
The government is asked to fulfill specific requirements
The first is to abolish the project for SHPP Ribnička, terminate all HPP concessions in the Šar Mountain National Park, and accelerate the re-proclamation of the Mavrovo National Park with adequate public consultations at all stages of the process.
The government was also asked to speed up the adoption of draft laws on water and nature protection in order to ban hydropower and other infrastructure projects in protected areas, but also to ensure regular coordination and consultation between state authorities and civil society organizations.
Assistance to meet the goals of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans
Ana Čolović Lešoska, executive director of Eko-svest, said it is time for the government to demonstrate its will to integrate the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the Berne Convention into its policies, laws and practice.
The most important now is the immediate termination of the concession for SHPP Ribnička in order to finish this unsustainable practice one and for all and the re-proclamation of the Mavrovo National Park, she said and added that protection of natural resources must be ensured with the adoption of a new nature protection law that would guarantee the ban on harmful infrastructure projects in the most environmentally sensitive areas of the country.
According to Eko-svest, the recommendations of the Berne Convention can help North Macedonia to meet the goals for the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems set in the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, and the Global Framework for Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity.