Public Outcry including Facebook Petition Saves Lake Skadar (for now)

Facebook Petition saves Lake

A public outcry, including a Facebook petition has halted, at least for the time being, construction of up to 4 dams along the Morača river in Montenegro. The river feeds into Lake Skadar, the biggest lake in the Balkans and a wetland of global importance per the Ramsar Convention

The Montenegrin government welcomed a public debate on the issue, and the WWF, (World Wildlife Fund) along with eco-blog TreeHugger answered the call, encouraging over 7,000 signatures to a Facebook petition against the construction.

Birds of Lake Skadar

Photo: Milán Radisics / Wild Wonders of Europe

Apparently, the outcry was enough to stay the construction project. Francesca Antonelli, Head of the Freshwater Program at WWF Mediterranean said: “We are happy to see that alternative solutions will be sought to the initial plan. Our voice and the one of the citizens was heard. The economic un-sustainability and environmental impact of the original plan were finally accepted by the government and this is a sign of responsibility.”

Other plans still on the table are diverting the Tara River which runs through Tara Canyon, listed as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organzation) Heritage site. The Tara Canyon is the deepest in Europe, and has been under speculation for damn construction as early as 2005. In 2006 an electric power plant was built in the canyon, despite public outcry for preservation. Further river diversion in either the Tara or Moraca canyon could significantly harm water levels in Lake Skadar, winter home to some 150,000 migratory birds and source of 90% of Montenegro’s fish.

The Facebook petition can be found here. Photos and an account from Global Whisperer friend and photographer Mika’s 4 day motorcycle trip through the affected canyons. We will keep a vigilant watch on proceedings as Montenegro’s government considers alternatives.

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