About the project

RIVERINE ENVIRONMENTS aims to understand how the multitude of entanglements between human (people) and non-human (river, animals, plants) processes and the related interventions have changed the way these two rivers flow and how these alterations have led to further changes in people’s lives.

In the last decade, due to the golden rush on the rivers of South East Europe or the Balkans, several transnational companies, in cooperation with local authorities, are planning to build about 3000 hydropower plants on these rivers – from these at least 10 hydropower plants on the Mura and 40 hydropower plants on the Vjosa. After almost a decade of dedicated work and various actions organised by local communities, NGOs (EcoAlbania, RiverWatch, Euronatur and Balkan River Defence), scientists and other activists to protect the Vjosa River from the construction of hydropower plants, the Memorandum between the Ministry of Tourism and Environment in Albania and outdoor company  Patagonia was signed on 13 June 2022. With this, the Albanian government committed to declaring the Vjosa River a national park.

Nevertheless, due to the accelerating energy crisis, several hydropower plants are still being planned throughout Southeastern Europe. Numerous environmentalists, activists and scientists (Save Blue Heart of Europe) alert, that the construction of these power plants will cause significant changes to rivers morphology and could lead to transformations of rivers’ biodiversities and landscapes and displacement of the local population.

Based on a cross-disciplinary approach combining remote sensing, anthropological and geographical research, RIVERINE ENVIRONMENTS explains how intensively hydropower plants on the Mura have influenced the river over the years and presumes how the planned infrastructural interventions on the Vjosa could transform the riverine landscape.

RIVERINE ENVIRONMENTS is part of the ESA funded project “Contextualization of EO data for a deeper understanding of river environment changes in Southeast Europe” and the Slovenian Research Agency funded project “Experiencing Water and Water Environments”.


Editors & concept: Urša Kanjir, Nataša Gregorič Bon, Liza Stančič

Contributors: Nataša Gregorič Bon, Urša Kanjir, Liza Stančič, Damir Josipovič

Illustrations & design advice: Natalija Kraševec

Technical implementation: Luka Ivartnik

Proofreading: Marie-Luise Kartunen, Barbara Pavčnik

Translation into Albanian: Armanda Kodra Hysa, Blerina Tahiraj

Short films Mura: Simona Kuntarič Zupanc, Urša Kanjir, Liza Stančič, Damir Josipovič
Short films Vjosa: Simona Kuntarič Zupanc, Nataša Gregorič Bon
Photos: Liza Stančič, Nataša Gregorič Bon, Urša Kanjir, Damir Josipovič, Aleksander Marinšek, Mitja Skudnik, Simona Kuntarič Zupanc, Alenka Janko Spreizer, EcoAlbania, Adrian Guri, Christopher Hauer
We thank the people of the Vjosa Valley, especially the inhabitants of Përmet, Qesarat, Iliras, Kutë, Selenicë, Armen (Albania) and the inhabitants of Hotiza, Ceršak (Slovenia), especially the granny Marica, for their time and for sharing their experiences and river
stories with us. We also thank our colleagues at the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, ZRC SAZU, for their support in our challenging journey of combining two very different methods and disciplines anthropology and remote sensing. We are grateful to NGO’s EcoAlbania, RiverWatch, Balkan River Defence and Moja Mura for their valuable comments, suggestions and information at various stages of this website exhibition. Thanks also to our colleagues Nataša Rogelja Caf and Martina Bofulin from Institute for Migration Studies, ZRC SAZU, for their suggestions and advice regarding this website, to Primož Gašperič from the Anton Melik Geographical institute, ZRC SAZU, for his help with historical maps. Anja Serec Hodžar and our other colleagues from the Institute of Ethnomusicology, ZRC SAZU, informed us about folk music from the Mura region and to Grupa Poni for the contribution of their song.
Last but not least, we thank ESA and ARRS for their financial support (ESA 4000130071/20/I-DT, ARRS J6-1803, ARRS P6-0079).
Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, 2022.