Map – Expansion of the Emerald Network in the Western Balkans
Map | 8 January 2024
The Western Balkans is a global biodiversity hotspot, especially for freshwater biodiversity. The region’s extensive mountains, rivers and wetlands are home to numerous endangered fish and other aquatic species. A high percentage of the region’s rivers are in good or pristine condition, which is significantly above the European average.
The proper designation and management of Emerald Network sites in the Western Balkans can offer protection and recovery for fish and other important species and habitats, thus preserving the unique value of the region’s rivers. As members of the Council of Europe and signatories of the Bern Convention, five Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – are required to establish a sufficient number of Emerald sites, but very few have been proposed so far – all of them before 2011.
This map identifies the most important sites for the protection of freshwater species and habitats that need to be added to the Emerald Network. It’s the result of a collaborative effort involving 39 scientists and NGO representatives, including some of Europe’s leading fish experts, who joined the Emerald Green initiative in 2022. The map is complemented by a database of 88 river sections, providing information on the fish species of European importance that inhabit them.
Learn more about the Emerald Green initiative, map and database in ‘Joint statement on the expansion of the Emerald Network in countries of the Western Balkans’.