Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe. The Neretva River, winding its way through the impenetrable forests of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a breathtaking natural wonder. Spanning 140 miles (225 kilometers) from the rugged Dinaric Alps to the tranquil Adriatic Sea, its mesmerizing blue-green waters captivate all who witness its beauty. However, beneath its enchanting surface lies an intricate ecosystem that is now at risk due to proposed dam projects. In this article, we explore the unique attributes of the Neretva River, the rare species it harbors, and the looming threat posed by hydropower development. Social Contact

Scientists are fighting to save the blue heart of Europe

A Haven of Biodiversity

1. A Kaleidoscope of Hues

The Neretva River’s striking blue-green coloration sets it apart, creating an otherworldly spectacle against the backdrop of dense forests. This unique feature has earned it the moniker “Emerald River.”

2. Hidden Wonders: Subterranean Channels and Springs

At various points along its course, the Neretva River mysteriously disappears underground, only to reemerge in bubbling springs, adding an element of intrigue to its journey.

3. Blind Guardians of the Depths

The river’s hidden caves house an extraordinary inhabitant – the olm, a blind salamander. These elusive creatures, adapted to life in darkness, contribute to the river’s unparalleled biodiversity.

4. Precarious Existence of the Marble Trout

The Neretva is home to the marble trout, a species of fish known for its intricate markings. This fish, once abundant, faces a perilous future due to impending dam construction.

The Looming Threat: Dams and Their Consequences

5. Damming the Flow: A Dire Situation

The Neretva River, like many others worldwide, is in the crosshairs of hydropower development. Over 50 hydropower projects are on the horizon, with a significant number planned for the untouched upper reaches of the river.

6. The Environmental Domino Effect

The construction of dams along the Neretva’s course can lead to devastating consequences for the river’s delicate ecosystem. Disrupting the flow and altering natural habitats could trigger a chain reaction affecting various species.

7. A Fragile Balance at Risk

Dams and weirs disrupt the migratory patterns of fish, jeopardizing their ability to reproduce and thrive. The proposed dams could push the marble trout, already facing endangerment, closer to the brink of extinction.

The Battle to Save the Neretva

8. Ulog: Witnessing Destruction

In the village of Ulog, the impact of hydropower projects is palpable. The advanced stages of construction for a 35-megawatt hydropower plant and a towering dam have left scars on the landscape, fueling concerns for the river’s future.

9. Convergence of Scientists: Neretva Science Week

A beacon of hope shines in the form of “Neretva Science Week,” where more than 60 scientists from 17 countries united to devise strategies to safeguard the river. Their shared mission: to prevent irreversible damage.

10. The Call to Action: Save the Blue Heart of Europe

Riverwatch’s Ulrich Eichelmann leads the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, advocating for the protection of Balkan rivers. The Neretva, with its exceptional biodiversity, stands as a symbol of the urgent need for conservation.

Kurt Pinter’s Quest: Preserving a Precious Legacy

11. The Journey from Vienna

Freshwater ecologist Kurt Pinter’s journey from Vienna to the Neretva embodies dedication to conservation. Armed with innovative techniques, he seeks to document the presence of species crucial to opposing the dam projects.

12. Electro-Fishing: A Glimpse Below the Surface

Pinter’s use of electro-fishing sheds light on the diverse fish populations residing in the Neretva’s depths. This data provides crucial evidence against the construction of dams that could disrupt migration.

13. The Delicate Balance of Life

The intricate balance of the Neretva’s ecosystem relies on natural processes, including fish migration. The proposed dams threaten to disrupt these processes, placing the entire ecosystem in jeopardy.


The Neretva River’s breathtaking beauty and invaluable biodiversity make it a treasure that must be preserved for future generations. The looming threat of dam construction highlights the delicate balance between progress and environmental conservation. As scientists, advocates, and passionate individuals come together to protect the Neretva, there is hope that this remarkable river can continue to flow freely, nurturing life along its course.


  1. Why is the Neretva River known as the “Emerald River”? The Neretva’s distinctive blue-green color has led to its nickname, the “Emerald River,” creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle.
  2. What is electro-fishing, and how does it help conservation efforts? Electro-fishing involves creating an electric field in water to attract fish for study. This technique provides valuable data for understanding fish populations and migration patterns.
  3. How do dams impact fish species like the marble trout? Dams disrupt fish migration and breeding patterns, jeopardizing the survival of species like the marble trout.
  4. Why is the Neretva River’s biodiversity so important? The Neretva’s biodiversity is crucial for maintaining a healthy ecosystem and supporting various plant and animal species.
  5. How can individuals contribute to saving the Neretva River? Supporting conservation organizations, spreading awareness, and advocating for responsible development are ways individuals can help protect the Neretva’s future, Contact us


Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Scientists are fighting to save the ‘blue heart’ of Europe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *