Patagonia is well known for working to help save the environment. So, when I was given the opportunity to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina with the company to find out about the ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’ campaign, I was very excited! This trip was not about protesting against hydropower plants, but about showing us what would be lost if the hydropower plants continue.
We were based in Bosanska Krupa, a small town and municipality in North-Western Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the banks of the River Una (Una meaning ‘one’, or ‘the only’). Anes Halkic was our host, who runs una-discovery.org. Anes has lived by the Una River all his life, so he knows the area well.
We spent our first afternoon fly fishing on a tributary of the Una River, something I had not done before. I found it peaceful; standing in the middle of the river with the water rushing past your feet, listening to the tranquil sounds of nature, looking out for fish; AND frustrating... casting time and again and not catching anything. Not even beginners luck! It's catch and release, so all caught fish went back into the river. Watching Anes and his team was spellbinding, the fishing line swooshing back and forth so quietly before landing and gently floating down stream. I can see why so many people enjoy it as a pastime.
We were joined by ex-Olympic rower turned kayaker and environmentalist Rok Rozman, who is campaigning to keep rivers flowing freely across Europe through balkanriverstour.com. Rok talked to us about how the Balkans Rivers Tour came from his passion for paddling, how it has already stopped a number of power plants from going ahead, and how it is part of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign.
The following day, we drove to the Una National Park. Established in 2008, it’s located around the upper Una where it is joined by the Unac river. We walked along the banks of the Unac to see what would be lost if a proposed hydropower plant was built just upstream. Damming these rivers would be very destructive to nature, and the communities who depend on them. We visited a lady in the small village of Martin Brod nearby, a community which has depended on the water and its power in their everyday lives for over 150 years.
From calm peaceful fly fishing, we moved to something more adrenaline pumping; rafting down the Una. Rafting is something I love! We set off just downstream from Martin Brod, and enjoyed a few hours on the river. Did you know the Una River is the natural border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia?
If you want to find out more about the Save The Blue Heart of Europe campaign, please visit balkanrivers.net/en/news.
Having spent five days cycling round Montenegro last year, and along the Tara River, I was saddened to discover that there are eight hydropower projects planned there. In 2018 a petition will be launched, allowing people to support the Save The Blue Heart campaign. We will share it with you, so you can have your say.
Patagonia make outdoor gear with a passion ... a passion for great clothing and for protecting the environment. They've long been at the forefront of developments to reduce the impact that we have on the planet. Patagonia's mission is to, "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." We really love their functional and fashionable outdoor clothing ... from strappy travel dresses to cozy duvet jackets and lots more great gear in between.
Words and photos by staff member Victoria Kimber.