Dam removal: good news from France and Estonia

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26 Apr

Dam removals are dear to anglers as they understand the importance of free flowing rivers, their importance for the biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, including healthy fish populations.

The number of dams in Europe is estimated ca. 1 million, which, on average equals almost one barrier for each river kilometre in Europe. These barriers disrupt the natural functioning of the rivers and hamper fish migration, which for many species mean that they cannot fulfil their life cycle. 

On the 25th of April, EAA attended a workshop on dam removals organised by the coalition Dam Removal Europe and hosted by the European Commission Directorate General for Environment in Brussels. 

Two case studies were presented from France and Estonia. 

In France, two big obsolete dams are set to be removed on the Sélune River in order to restore ecological continuity between the river and the ocean. The project will continue for several years as the scientists hope to gain better understanding of the river characteristics with and without the dams. 

Dams are the prime reason why watercourses do not reach good ecological status in Estonia. The big removal project currently underway on the Pärnu River basin aims at restoring the river as well as its tributaries. In particular, three dams on Pärnu and five in the tributaries are set to be removed. 

Andreas Baumüller (WWF) took the opportunity to remind the audience that, according to the ‘State of Water’ report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) last year, only 40% of EU waters are in good status and that the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the best policy instrument Member States have at their disposal to restore their waterways. As the WFD is currently undergoing a fitness check, he mentioned the impressive participation to the #ProtectWater campaign that WWF launched together with four other NGOs, including the European Anglers Alliance, and expressed the hope that the European Commission will conclude that the Directive is fit for purpose and does not need to be revised, only better implemented. 

It seems that dam removals, at long last, are gaining momentum in Europe! 

● The Estonian Ministry of the Environment invites to a two-day Dam Removal Europe seminar 22-23 May 

● The European Commission announced that a workshop will be organised on the 3rd of June to present the results of the public consultation. 

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