The Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction and Ecology of the Republic of Srpska has accepted initiatives for starting the procedure for designation of protected areas on the River Sana, submitted by the Center for Environment (BiH) and Arnika (CZ) in January 2019. The initiative aim to establish a new protected area of “the source of the river Sana with the Mračaj sink” and a protected area of “the canyon of Prizren Grad”.
“Although the 5 MW hydro power plant Medna that was put into operation in March last year violated the entire Sana River basin and changed the conditions designation of the Nature Park of Upper Sana, the new initiatives are important in order to protect the remaining natural values of this region on a state level. The Institute is ready for this task and we are happy that to have the opportunity to work on the protection of this beautiful river that certainly deserves it”, Dragan Kovačević, head of the Department of Natural Heritage of the Institute for Protection of cultural, historical and nature heritage of Republic of Srpska. The Institute will conduct a biological research and prepare a study of which bases the act for the designation of the protected area is adopted.
These initiatives came from a previous initiative that was submitted in 2012 as a part of a campaign against the construction of the Medna hydro power plant. The then initiative aimed at proclaiming protection and stopping the destruction of the River Sana. It was accepted and a study for protection was made, but due to the construction of the Medna hydro power plant the process has stopped. After the construction, the ministry responsible contacted the initiators asking them whether they still stand for the initiative.
“After consultations, we concluded that this example could be misused in the future as a justification for the constructions of hydro power plants in protected areas, and we gave up this initiative. Instead, in order to protect what is most valuable and prevent potential construction of new hydro power plants on the river Sana, we have initiated these two initiatives, excluding the area where the controversial hydro power plant Medna is located, ” they explain in the Center for Environment.
The beauties of this region convinced also the rafters from Banja Luka.
“This year, for the first time, we have been rafting down through the two canyons in the upper course of the River Sana. The first canyon, which has been influenced by the Medna hydro power plant, although it is beautiful and powerful, is no longer suitable for rafting because of the lack of water that is now being diverted by pipes to the turbines of the hydro power plant. The downstream canyon beneath the Prizren City is perfect and represents a great attraction and opportunity for development of wild water sports and tourism that can generate income for the local community. We are surprised by the beauty of this canyon and we appeal to the decision makers to protect it and not to allow the construction of yet another new hydro power plant “Prizren Grad – Sana 2” that would sink the whole canyon,” the Banja Luka rafters said.
In the summer of 2018, the Center for the Environment and Arnika has engaged a group of biological researchers to detaily research the area of the springs of the River Sana.
“The results we have obtained, show that this area is unique and represents a habitat for a large number of important plant and animal species. The results of the survey provide data for as many as 304 species, and among them there are plenty of those for which no data related to this area existed until now. It is important to note that the canyon of Prizren Grad is also a habitat of gray falcons, ” said Iva Miljevic, coordinator of these research from the Center for Environment.