Franziska Ellen Walther
Global Change Geography
What is your motivation for doing research related to free-flowing rivers?
Water stress is happening all around the globe. Especially freshwater systems, as rivers, are threatened by anthropogenic pressure that alters quantity and quality of water. Doing research on one of Europe’s last free-flowing rivers, Vjosa River (Albania), made the high value of wild rivers clear to me. Wild rivers are unique, geomorphologically intact, biodiversity-rich and social-valuable river systems, which should be maintained.
Why should we defend these wild rivers?
Balkan rivers show a high disparity reaching from the last free-flowing rivers of Europe to contaminated rivers or desiccated riverbeds due to human impact (coal mining, hydropower plants, waste). Protecting wild rivers and improving the state of the remaining rivers is necessary to ensure biodiversity and sustainability. Spreading the gained scientific knowledge to the local and global community is crucial to release a pulse for socioecological change. Let’s raise awareness of the high natural and social value of free-flowing rivers!