Two barrier removals, North Macedonia

Removing two barriers leading to the opening up of 10 km of river.


The Pcinja River, the second largest left tributary of the Vardar River, flows through the northern part of our country, originating from the Bela Voda peak in the Dukat mountains in Serbia, a protected area. Stretching over 76km, it is joined by the Kumanovska Reka on the right side and the larger tributary Kriva Reka on the left. Smaller tributaries include Dragomanska Reka, Petrosnica, and Luka rivers.

At a glance

Project typeDam removal: demolition
Project statusLive
Demolition dateWinter 2024
CountryNorth Macedonia
Km to be opened10
Focal species Barbus balcanicus, Sabanejewia balcanica, Gobio balcanicus, Barbatula barbatula, Oxynoemacheilus bureschi, Alburnoides thessalicus, Chondrostoma vardarense, Squalius vardarensis, Rhodeus meridionalis, Vimba melanops

Project context and opportunity

Removing two barriers is expected to lead to improved water quality, enhanced migration routes for fish species, and facilitated sediment movement. Specifically, eliminating the Shuplji Kamen barrier will mitigate safety risks for the local population and promote recreational use of the river. This project will pioneer innovative river restoration practices, setting a precedent for future projects and influencing policy development in river management.

Project aims

The goal is to achieve the first-ever dam removal in North Macedonia, targeting two barriers along the fragmented Pcinja River, which hosts over 40 weirs and barriers. Removing these barriers will significantly enhance the river’s free flow, covering over 60 km. With the proposed removal of the K_033 barrier on Kriva Reka and the P_02 barrier on Pcinja, we aim to establish a continuous flow over 77 km, constituting 48% of the total river length in North Macedonia. This action will facilitate fish migration and expand their habitat, addressing the absence of fish passes in upstream and downstream barriers. Despite the absence of existing management plans for the Pcinja River and its tributaries, this project will initiate the development of comprehensive management strategies driven by the upcoming Water Law aligned with the Water Framework Directive.

View programme-supported barrier identification and prioritisation project.