Bern Treaty Committee to monitor the Skavica Project for Potential Violations, Provides New Hope for the Black Drin River and Imperiled Species

Bern Treaty Committee to monitor the Skavica Project for Potential Violations, Provides New Hope for the Black Drin River and Imperiled Species

Joint Press Statement– Tiranë, April ____, 2024

Earth Law Center – USA, Earth Thrive – UK, Opposition to Skavica Dam-OSD
(Albania), Group of Rural Activists of Dibra-GARD (Albania), North Green Association
(Albania), and GLV Integrimi (Albania).

Part of the area that would be flooded by the Skavica hydropower plant. Photo: Andrey Ralev (Bankwatch)

This press release concerns our official complaint with the Bureau of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) regarding the Skavica Hydropower Plant Project (HPP). The Bern Convention is a treaty to protect wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats.

Following an in-depth tour of the affected project site and a project stakeholder’s consultation, we submitted an official complaint with the Bern Convention. Our complaint asserts that Skavica HPP destroys protected habitats and, more specifically, violates articles 2, 3.1, 3.2., 4.1, and 10.1 of the Bern Convention.

In our complaint, we provide ample evidence of how the authorities, in relation to this project, have failed to take necessary administrative actions to protect species and habitats (listed in Appendices I and II and Resolutions no. 4 [1996] & no. 6 [1998]), including because the Black Drin River should be declared an Emerald site according to the 2011 Biogeographical Seminar.

We are glad that, following the review of the feedback received by both the Government of Albania and our coalition of NGOs during January 2024, the Bern Convention, in its meeting of April 2024, has decided to monitor the Skavica HPP and to request the Albanian government to respond to the below shared concerns:

– The Skavica HPP on the Black Drini River may affect a potential Emerald Network site and also numerous protected species in the Bern Convention, which Albania has ratified into law.
– Special concern is for the critically endangered Balkan Lynx and its migratory corridors. The Bern Convention has emphasized that the Skavica HPP project contravenes the Lynx Recovery Project, in which Albania was the main proponent for listing the Balkan Lynx as a strictly protected species.
– The Bureau also remarked that the project may affect three important western Balkan lakes, including Ohrid and Shkoder lakes.
– An issue that needs close monitoring is the ongoing elaboration of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for Skavica HPP.
– Lastly, the Bureau highlighted the protection of large carnivores, which are also affected by the Skavica HPP.

The Bern Convention has requested Albania to apply the precautionary principle during the current first phase of the project. This means not developing projects that may negatively affect the habitats and species of Albania, and of the Bern Convention territory.

We will closely monitor the project development and provide information to Bern Convention by July 2024, as requested.

“We must move away from the false notion that hydropower is ‘renewable’ energy when it permanentlydestroys freshwater ecosystems and causes significant environmental harms to all life, including humans,” said Grant Wilson, Executive Director, Earth Law Center. “We are pleased that the Bureau has taken our complaint seriously, and we especially applaud their support of the precautionary principle in their recent update.”

‘’We would also like to emphasize that we cannot sacrifice Nature and ecosystems for false solutions, like the dam on the Skavica is, in the name of saving that same Nature from climate crisis, largely caused by the very destruction of ecosystems – that the dam would cause. We need to look for solutions that serve and preserve all life and not create sacrifice zones,’’ says Zoe Lujic, Executive Director of Earth Thrive.

“There has been a growing opposition to Skavica Dam, a movement to protect Drin River, flora, fauna because our lives and livelihood depends on the existence of Black Drin River. Protests to protect Black Drin River and Dibra will continue, as we continue our legal fight to protect the rights of the community of Dibra in a similar way we fight to protect the rights of the Black Drin River. Science has proven that hydropower destroys physical changes of the river, resulting in fragmented habitats, reduced biodiversity, imperiled fish population, retain sediment and nutrition that are fundamental to downstream ecosystem health, and exacerbate climate change. We urge lawmakers and scientific community to find alternative resources including solar energy and wind power,” says Ferzileta Gjika founder of Opposition to Skavica Dam movement.

Lastly, we would like to express our commitment to protect nature and the local communities in Dibra, in cooperation with a larger coalition of people and civil society actors. We encourage all authorities, including the National Environmental Agency and the local government in Dibra, to carefully review the project information and applications that will be submitted to them for this project. We urge the decision makers to realize the devastating negative impacts of the Skavica HPP and to cancel this detrimental project before it is too late, both for the habitats and people.


Earth Law Center, U.S.A

Tel.: +1-510-566-1063



Earth Thrive -UK



Opposition to Skavica Dam, Albania



Tel: +355696752775




Opposition to Skavica Dam

The movement "Opposition to Skavica Dam", "Opposition to the construction of the Skavica Project" has been approved, legitimized by the Court of Tirana, as a popular movement to oppose the construction of Skavica, and aims to protect Dibra. I invite all Dibras to be part of this movement, all-popular, united more than ever. Please contact us with the following information: **email: ** cell: 0696752775 **With respect, ** Ferzileta Gjika

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