Wetlands International Europe joins Dam Removal Europe partnership

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As of 2020, Wetlands International Europe has joined the Dam Removal Europe partnership. Together with World Fish Migration Foundation, European Rivers Network, The Rivers Trust, Rewilding Europe, WWF and The Nature Conservancy, we aim to restore rivers in Europe that have high natural or cultural importance.

Free-flowing rivers

Rivers are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world and the ongoing construction of dams in many of Europe’s rivers means that the ecological degradation persists. Few rivers are still free-flowing with serious implications for a number of migratory fish species such as eel and salmon. In addition, dams and other infrastructure result in the trapping of an estimated 25% of the total global sediment load that formerly reached the ocean.

The EU Water Framework Directive is an important policy instrument to protect and restore our rivers and has proven to be successful when properly implemented and enforced. Yet the actions taken to date by Member States fall far short of what is needed to bring Europe’s freshwater ecosystems into good health.

Mainstream option

Dam removal-based river restoration (in short: dam removal) is an effective approach to restore freshwater ecosystems through restoring river continuity. By returning rivers to their natural, free-flowing state, dam removal can reverse biodiversity decline and restore the flow of sediment from rivers to the sea.

The Dam Removal Europe initiative aims to make dam removal a mainstream river management option in Europe. Wetlands International is happy to be partner of Dam Removal Europe and to contribute to this aim through our advocacy efforts towards European Institutions and Member States. Jointly with our members, we advocate urgent actions to meet the goals of the EU Water related Directives, in particular the application of large-scale measures for improving longitudinal connectivity of rivers.

More information

Browse through our reports, papers and webinars on dam removal and river restoration:

  • Consultation response to the European Commission recommending to take up dam removal as a priority topic for research investment under the Horizon Europe programme.
  • Webinar series on river continuity and dam removal.
  • An analysis of river fragmentation in Spanish basins.
  • Decision-makers guidelines for dam removal considering the risks of invasive alien species.
  • Case study report highlighting the benefits of river restoration measures and EU water policy implementation.


Header Image © Karsten Würth on Unsplash