Complementing river restoration work in its personal operational areas, Rewilding Europe will collaborate with accomplice organisations on this new initiative to marketing campaign for and assist the elimination of dams from European waterways. On this method we will scale up river rewilding throughout the continent.
Rewilding Europe has grow to be a accomplice in Dam Removal Europe (DRE), a European-wide coalition of organisations working to revive European rivers by eradicating previous and out of date dams and weirs. A partnership settlement signed in February 2018 is now changing into operational. The opposite DRE accomplice organisations are the World Fish Migration Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), European Rivers Network, Rivers Trust and Karlstad University.
With the biodiversity alongside European rivers lowering by over 80% over the past 40 years, the necessity to halt and reverse this decline is now crucial. The elimination of dams has confirmed to be probably the most environmentally environment friendly and cost-effective measure for river restoration.
“We’re very completely happy to hitch the Dam Elimination Europe initiative and assist its work,” says Wouter Helmer, Rewilding Europe’s Head of Rewilding. “There are such a lot of European waterways which might flourish ecologically in the event that they got the prospect. Wholesome, unimpeded rivers make good sense from each an financial and environmental viewpoint.”
The target of DRE is to focus on how dam elimination can create extra pure rivers and thereby profit fisheries, flood safety, consuming water high quality, recreation and wild nature. The initiative may also act as a platform for improvement and information change between a rising pan-European community of authorities, NGOs, corporations and academic institutes engaged on dam elimination, and advocate good hydropower planning (most hydropower tasks usually are not inexperienced and never viable local weather change options).
People, together with these dwelling in Europe, have interacted with and relied on rivers for millennia. Over time, as environmental pressures have modified, so our notion of those waterways has additionally modified. As we speak, because of man’s want to control and harness nature, lower than 20% of European rivers and floodplains stay bodily unaltered.
Along with altering the complete course of rivers, man has left a legacy of obstacles in nearly each European waterway. Whereas many of those boundaries present vitality and water and facilitate leisure actions, a major share are fully redundant. Apart from presenting a possible flood hazard, many have a considerable and detrimental influence on river ecosystems.
Dams can severely impede the swimways of fish and different aquatic fauna and this leads on to the decline and even native extinction of many species. They’ll additionally end result within the important lack of riverine habitat, often favouring the proliferation of unique and invasive species.
Dams additionally alter river hydrology, decreasing downstream circulation and lowering the river’s tendency to flood. This reduces the connection between the river channel and its floodplain, lowering soil fertility and aquifer recharge. They’ll additionally block nutrient and sediment circulation, inflicting downstream channel and financial institution erosion, diminished delta formation and coastal erosion. Upstream the creation of standing water can result in a deterioration in water high quality and elevated greenhouse fuel emissions from decomposing vegetation.
The elimination of dams and different obstacles can doubtlessly assist to mitigate or remove some or all the above points. Whereas it’s uncommon for European rivers to be fully freed from synthetic boundaries, the previous 20 years have seen at the very least 5,000 small dams, weirs and culverts faraway from rivers in France, Sweden, Finland, Spain and the UK. Dam elimination might help member states adjust to the phrases of the European Union’s Water Framework Directive, which requires them to enhance the ecological safety of rivers and lakes.
At Rewilding Europe we belief in nature. When left to handle itself, pure processes start to operate extra successfully, interacting with one another to create continually evolving habitats which might be dwelling ever-shifting wildlife populations.
Throughout all of our operational areas, implementing the rewilding philosophy means creating house for self-governing pure processes to form ecosystems. Along with letting processes similar to forest regeneration, flooding and pure grazing influence landscapes, we’re additionally working to revive rivers to their free-flowing state, or as near this state as we will obtain.
“In a lot of our operational areas rivers are a significant a part of the native ecosystem,” says Wouter Helmer. “It’s vital to rewilding efforts that we restore these waterways to a pure state as a lot as attainable, and forestall free-flowing rivers from being obstructed by any dams, dykes and different infrastructure that might diminish their pure behaviour.”
In 2017 Rewilding Europe carried out river restoration in two of its operational areas: Lapland and the Oder Delta. In Lapland this work has included the elimination of log dams which might be a legacy of the native forestry business.