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Under threat: Bosnia’s forests and the toll of mining operations

The forest surrounding Vares is not just a collection of trees but a vital habitat for wildlife, including bears and wolves. However, activists are alarmed by the recent deforestation in the area, which they attribute to preparations for mining activities. Professor Samir Lemes of the NGO Eko Forum Zenica highlights the lack of transparency surrounding these plans, revealing discrepancies between the proposed mining activities and their actual impact on the environment.

Officially, the mining project aims to extract zinc, lead, barite and silver, but environmental organizations argue that the cost to the community will be high. They fear the sacrifice of biodiversity and natural habitats, including a protected virgin forest, for the sake of mineral extraction. Professor Dalibor Ballian from the University of Sarajevo’s forestry faculty has observed the immediate consequences of preparatory work on the project, noting the displacement of animals, changes in vegetation, and contamination of drinking water sources, such as nearby springs.

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According to a report by the NGO Bankwatch, the scale of deforestation exceeds what was initially stated, with 3,000 square meters of forest cleared in the wrong location. Pippa Gallopp, a representative of Bankwatch, criticizes the involvement of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the project. Despite documented environmental concerns, the EBRD has invested in Adriatic Metals, the mining company, disregarding its own environmental and social policies. This move is seen as a direct violation of the principles the EBRD claims to uphold, according to Bankwatch.

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