In Northern Albania, the icy Valbona River flows from deep inside Valbona Valley National Park. The river is home to otters and many species of birds, and is important to people in the Tropojë region and the mountain villages along its banks. In 2014, locals learned about 14 proposed hydropower projects along the river when bulldozers rolled in to start construction. These plants would be spread along a 30-kilometer stretch of the river, with eight located inside the park and six threatening wildlife habitats protected by the Bern Convention. Since then, residents have struggled to get accurate information about the construction plans. Among them is Catherine Bohne, who immigrated to Albania a decade ago and who now dedicates much of her energy to stop the construction on the river.
The Albanian government won’t save an ecologically and culturally significant river from hydropower, advocates say. But maybe its people will.
May 7, 2020