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Balkan rafters remind us of the importance of valuing Europe’s last free-flowing rivers

We invite you to join us on this weekend festival to celebrate the rivers that impact our lives and shape our future

Imagine rafting on cool, turquoise waters down a deep canyon on a hot summer day. This is exactly what hundreds of river lovers and rafting enthusiasts will do on August 21st. By navigating the fast waters of the Tara River, rafters from across the Balkans will celebrate rivers in the first ‘Weekend for Rivers’ festival, hosted by KES “Pustolov” Rafting Club and Rafting Center ”Tara-Raft”, supported by WWF Adria and International Rafting Federation.
 
The Tara River borders Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, cutting one of the deepest and most spectacular canyons in Europe. In 1977, the river and the canyon were designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, recognizing its diverse flora and fauna, varied habitats, and overall natural and cultural values. Named the ‘Tear of Europe’, Tara River has a high potential for sustainable development, supporting activities such as ecological tourism, rafting and kayaking, hiking, and canyoning. However, all this is at risk due to highly devastating plans to construct three hydropower plants on the Drina River, that will have a large impact on the Tara River as well.
 
Not only would the planned hydro-reservoirs irreversibly devastate 30 kilometers of the Drina River and consequently have a huge adverse effect on the Tara as well, but the entire planning process was fraught with numerous inconsistencies, lack of transparency and proper public participation, as well as unclear financing. Furthermore, the complex political organization of Bosnia and Herzegovina, paired with the fact that both rivers create natural borders to neighbouring countries, the proposed project fuels the political divide since not all decision makers were properly consulted. Also, and more strikingly, no feasibility studies have been released to the public, questioning the whole purpose and viability of the project.
 
That is why a dozen rafting clubs from across the region will gather in Bastasi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on August 21st to celebrate Balkan rivers, some of the last wild, free-flowing rivers in Europe. The ‘Weekend for Rivers’ festival will be a way for them to raise their voices for rivers, pointing out the importance of preserving the Tara River and all its values that are at risk of being lost if the proposed hydropower development continues. As true ambassadors for rivers, the rafters will join other organizations and individuals working to preserve Balkan rivers for current and future generations.
    
We invite you to join us on this weekend festival to celebrate the rivers that impact our lives and shape our future! 
Weekend for Rivers

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