Explorers Connect

Adventures Not Dams

OtherSimon Pearce

Today, the stunning 270km stretch of Albania’s Vjosa River remains untamed, free-flowing and untouched by man. It is home to thousands of endemic species and communities that rely on it in its current state along its banks. By the end of 2018, if construction companies backed by international banks get their way, it could be very different story. On the River Vjosa alone, 36 hydropower projects are proposed, with many more in national parks all over the Balkans.

Adventures Not Dams uncovers the damage inflicted by hydropower plants along The Vjosa River, fuelled by international banks. It documents the perspective of local biologists, farmers, students, and tourism experts and shows the irreversible environmental impact this will have on just two of the 36 hydropower projects planned along the Vjosa; Kalivaçi and Pocemi.

The project was co-produced by filmmaker Jon Collins and Much Better Adventures co-founder, Sam Bruce. On the release of the film, Bruce said, ‘When we heard about the plans to dam the last wild river on the continent we went out to Albania see what was happening on the ground. To pour concrete over protected national parks is crazy but to do so without proper environmental assessments is obscene. They are building these dams without proper planning permission or giving notice to the locals who will be the most impacted.’

“The locals along this beautiful river have been ignored - It’s a classic David versus Goliath situation. The optimism from some of the people we met was admirable but they desperately need their voices heard and get more support of the international community. Hopefully our film can contribute towards making this issue more widely known - I anticipate this being a story that we will hear a lot more about in 2018”.

Olsi Noki, an environmental biologist, has been campaigning against dam construction since 2013. He emphasizes the urgency of the situation in the film, saying, “2018 is the year for the future of this river. There will be dams or no dams, but this is the year”.

If the river is freed from damming, industries such as adventure tourism, non-intensive agriculture and alternative renewable energy such as solar or wind production can provide effective long term alternatives for sustainable economic development for the local communities along its banks.

Find out more at muchbetteradventures.com/vjosa