River problems in Latvia

rivers5People who live in Latvia or decide to visit this amazing country still have an opportunity to see the wild nature where the influence of humans' activities is almost unnoticeable. There are many rivers in Latvia, which makes landscapes of country so beautiful and is a reason why there are so many different kinds of plants and species of living beings. But places where everyone can meet the pure nature are getting less and less... The fact that our landscapes have been changing so radically encouraged a group of young people from association "BALTA DABA" to explore why it is happening and what kind of influence on nature it has.
One of the annual events organized by association "BALTA DABA" is a boating tour. This is actually one of the reasons why people from association started to pay more attention on things which endangers health and beauty of rivers of Latvia.

Every year after spending some time on rivers we realized that there must be different reasons why the rivers start to seem not as "alive" as they used to be at the time when we were just small kids, so we decided to explore which are the biggest problems for the rivers and what we could do to protect our rivers from conditions which have a bad influence on them.

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The river before volunteers' work
(the picture above shows
the result after)


To reach the goal people at the age of 17 to 27 organized a complex of activities focusing more on Latvia's longest river, called Gauja, "health". The Gauja River is one of the swiftest and most picturesque rivers of Latvia. It is also a river where many endangered species of plants, insects, fishes and animals live; but at the same time it is the river, where, comparing to other rivers of Latvia, most small hydroelectric power stations are (The Gauja River is 452 km long and there are 9 hydroelectric power stations on it.). Boating down by the river, which was a part of the project called "Neaizmirsti Gaujmalu" ("Do not forget the riverside of the Gauja River!"), supported by programme "Youth in Action", members of the project realized that actually there is not that much pollution of human activities (waste of everyday etc.), but mostly the way how river look and what kind of species live or don't live there are caused by the actions of these small power stations. Our own observations together with opinions of environmental experts and local people living next to the river made us understand that the situation when the water level has been changing so sharp and often, can dramatically influence "the health" of the river. Although the electricity which the society gets from hydropower stations is so-called "green energy", we have really big doubts about it if it's worth of destroying "home" for different kind live beings and great landscapes as well in exchange for 1% (138 small hydropower stadions produce only 1% of our electricity consumption) of total energy what society of Latvia use. But as our goal with the project was to do something good for our rivers, we also visited people who really care about them. Those were people who live next to the river, love it and have their homes and farms in a nature friendly way. They were also people who told us about species which live in our rivers and what we could do to save them.
One of the most exciting activities of our project was workshop where we cleared away riverbed from old trees and waste, which stop the natural flow of water. In corporation with another project called "Liec upē akmeni " ("Put a Stone in a River") members of our organization together with the local inhabitants learnt about the way how to put stones in a river to make them get more oxygen, which is necessary for species living in the water. So basically this project inspired us to do even more to keep our rivers clean and "help" them, if it is necessary. But the main thing which we realized during the project was that only with an active participation and cooperation we can make things to change. Everyone who took part in the project, admitted that we all are responsible of the situation of our rivers, so we have to do as much as possible to make the situation change. We hope that the movie which is summary of the whole project and has been made during the last few months will inspire other people to take care of the values which our country has.

Film about our project is aviable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPOSadOVe2Y

BALTA DABA

Rivers1 copy rivers2 rivers3

Small hydropower station
on Gauja river

Consequences of
small hydropower station
Consequences of
sharp river flow changes
 
 
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