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This study aims to quantify the number of hydropower projects that are planned within protected areas on the Balkan Peninsula. A total of 1,640 projected hydropower plants (HPPs) have been examined based on a detailed and categorized network of protected areas. A total of 535 planned projects or 32 % fall in strictly protected areas. In addition, 282 HPPs (17 %) are projected inside other protected areas with a weaker protection status. Altogether, 817 or 49% of all projected HPPs fall in protected areas, which points to the fact that this practice is the rule rather than an exception. This indicates a very high pressure of hydropower on protected sites.