BALKAN RIVERS TOUR 5 | Sava: Bohinj to Belgrade

The Sava River is kind of like the girl (or boy) next door. You spend your childhood playing together, never really realizing how attractive/mysterious/beautiful and incredible he/she really is.

The Balkan River Tour 5 (BRT5) crew will kayak the entire length of Sava River and will be joined along the way by people who support wild rivers. They will spend 39 days and 1000km in their kayaks – paddling from the source of the Sava River in Slovenia’s Julian Alps, through Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, all the way to the confluence with Danube River in Belgrade, Serbia.

39 days. 4 countries. 1000km of paddling. 1 river. Sava. From April 24th to June 1st 2020.

During the 39 days of action (April 24th to June 1st 2020), they will bring together locals, nature conservation organizations, kayakers, fishermen, scientists, schools, media outlets and influential individuals, to show how incredible and important the Sava catchment is for wildlife and locals.

 WHY DOES THE SAVA NEED HELP?
The Sava River is facing many threats:

With 9 existing (highly destructive) hydropower plants (HPPs) on the Sava River in Slovenia, there are also plans for as many as 14 new HPPs in Slovenia and Croatia.
The creation of a channel cutting a corner out of the Sava to connect it to the Danube in Croatia.
– Many other industrial activities like dredgingfor navigation and gravel extraction threaten to severely damage the river and could ultimately kill one of the last freshwater corridors for wildlife in Europe.
– More than 500 new HPPs are planned throughout the Sava catchment, on tributaries that feed this rich river.

 

WHAT IS THE MAIN MESSAGE OF BRT5?
No new dams on the Sava. Why?

  • The Sava is an integral part of Europe’s greater freshwater ecosystem, home to Natura 2000 and IUCN Red List species like the Danube salmon (Hucho hucho).
  • The river is a remarkable climate change mitigation tool with active flood forests that keep towns and cities safer than they would otherwise be from seasonal and climate change-related flood events.
  • The Sava needs better biodiversity protection measures as well as support for sustainable ecotourism and local economy which can produce more revenue than destructive industry.
  • Instead of mass destruction through HPPs, which is often heavily subsidized by tax payer’s money and which is has been proven to enable rampant corruption, we demand from decision-makers and investment institutions to back out from hydro and support cheaper and true green alternatives. What does this mean on the ground? Install solar panels on existing infrastructure, wind turbines on highways and start the transition to a sustainable economy with smaller general power consumption.

 

THE FOLLOWING WILL ALSO BE A PART OF BALKAN RIVERS TOUR 5:

BRT5 RIVER ACTIONS
These self-initiated events and actions will be organized by local river defenders, organizations or foreigners – anyone who would like to help in the fight for the last wild rivers of Europe because they have witnessed and experienced the consequences of a degraded river due to a dam. With these events, they will let the decision-makers know that the fight for the rivers of the Balkans is not a one-off project but a well-established movement.

eDNA RESEARCH
During their kayak descent of the Sava River, the BRT5 paddling crew will collect water samples from 70 sites for environmental DNA (eDNA) research. A team of experts from Slovenia, Italy and Austria will use the collected samples to perform genetic analysis. This research will give a detailed insight into fish species occurrence in the Sava and provide a data-based comparison of species diversity in dammed vs. more natural parts of the river. This will be the first full eDNA study of the Sava River and an eDNA study with an exceptionally large geographic scale.

FORMATION OF THE SAVA COALITION
BRT5 crew will establish The Sava Coalition by inviting NGOs from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia that work in public interest and towards preservation of biodiversity, to join. Together they will form a united voice and a body that will act as a counterpart towards commissions on the Sava that currently exist to further exploit Sava River for economic purposes, without taking into consideration biodiversity and wildlife.

MORE INFORMATION:
Balkan River Defence website: www.balkanriverdefence.org
Full month-long tour program: https://balkanriverdefence.org/brt5program/
BRT5 River Actions: https://balkanriverdefence.org/brt5river-actions/
BRT5 Interactive Map: COMING SOON!