Balkanfluss Tara, Montenegro und Bosnien

Staudamm an der Save, Slowenien

Save the Blue Heart of Europe

Campaign for the Protection of Europes Wild Rivers in the Balkans

The Foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung supports the preservation of the last natural rivers in Europe. Under the leadership of the partner organizations RiverWatch and Euronatur, the foundation is involved in a campaign that is mainly directed against the immense expansion of planned hydropower plants.



The ‚Blue Heart of Europe‘ lies between Slovenia and Albania on the Balkan Peninsula. Nowhere else on the continent you can find so many different and untouched types of rivers and river species. Of nearly 36,000 kilometres of rivers and streams, 12,000 kilometres have a very good morphological condition and another 18,000 kilometres have a good structure. This is unique on our continent.

What’s more, these rivers are one of the most important hotspots for European biodiversity: 69 of the fish species are endemic. The rivers also host a variety of many threatened as well as endemic molluscs species.

This valuable natural area is under threat: more than 570 medium and large hydroelectric power plants are planned, regardless of nature and people, often with financial support from Western investors. Even national parks are not spared.

The Project 

The campaign „Save the Blue Heart of Europe“ is committed to conserve the ecologically most valuable sections of the river courses, and to initiate an Eco-Masterplan for the development of water power for the entire network of rivers in the Balkan – a kind of land-use plan with „no-go“ routes for the electrical industry. For the first time, it brings together knowledge about biodiversity, the integrity of watercourses and the location of protected areas.


15.03.2023: Today the Albanian River Vjosa has been proclaimed Europe’s first Wild River National Park

11.10.2022: Success of the Balkan Campaign: Concessions for 7 Hydropower Plants revoked - Rivers protected in Shar Planina National Park, North Macedonia

August 2022: Preliminary Report of the Neretva Science Week published

In the summer of 2022, 50 scientists from all over Europe studied the local biodiversity of the Neretva River in Bosnia & Herzegovina during a multidisciplinary expedition. A short video (on youtube) provides insights into the work of the experts.