Dam removal can help achieve Horizon Europe’s mission for healthy inland waters

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Wetlands International – European Association and the World Fish Migration Foundation recommend the European Commission to include dam removal as a priority topic for investment under its new research and innovation programme Horizon Europe. In a joint contribution to Horizon Europe’s Co-design process, the NGOs emphasise the powerful role dam removal can play to restore freshwater ecosystems and reverse the decline of freshwater biodiversity.

One of the main problems for freshwater species is the loss of longitudinal connectivity of rivers caused by dams, weirs and other structures, notably the huge number of small dams in European rivers. Dam removal-based river restoration (in short: dam removal) is an effective approach that brings freshwater ecosystems into good health through restoring river continuity. It helps addressing the root causes preventing good ecological status of rivers and is a conservation priority for fish in Europe.

Dam removal provides a concrete solution to one of the high-ambition mission areas for Horizon Europe: Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters. Removal of dams that no longer have a beneficial function can accelerate the ecological improvement of inland waters. Through Research and Innovation the barriers to large-scale uptake and replication of dam removal solutions can be identified and resolved. The EU can make a difference by investing in a comprehensive study, scalable case studies and methodologies to support Member States in identifying and prioritising barriers that should be removed. This will significantly contribute towards achieving the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.

Open consultation

The European Commission has invited stakeholders to contribute through an open consultation to the co-design process that will prepare the first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe – the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021 – 2027. The submission by Wetlands International – European Association and the World Fish Migration Foundation targets the EU’s policy objective for a Sustainable Europe. The submission can be downloaded below.

Dam removal - catalyst for the restoration of inland waters

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