Our Team

The Core Team

The Dam Removal Europe coalition is coordinated by the World Fish Migration Foundation which delivers the core team. This group of passionate people have the mission to make dam removal a viable tool for local river practitioners.

Pao Fernández Garrido

Dam Removal Europe Manager

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
I had the great opportunity to train on dam removal in US East Coast and I learned why they take dam removal so seriously and why their policy is so efficient. So, right after my question was: what is the situation in Europe? Unbelievably, there was no information at all about the situation of European rivers and all their barriers. This could not be true, something needed to be done!

Why is dam removal important to you?
Rivers are literally the veins of our ecosystems, of our home. Dams act as a block in your circulatory system. The best way to recover a healthy river (and avoid dam failures) is to remove these “blocks” when possible.

How do you hope to make a difference?
Through the compilation of the existing knowledge around the world and sharing it, I hope to facilitate the best information to policy makers, river managers, journalist and citizens, to help them improve their legislation and decision making on their rivers.


Herman Wanningen

Dam Removal Europe Founder and Developer

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?

I got my inspiration to start Dam Removal Europe when I visited the USA from 2011 and visited the Elwha river dam removal project in the USA. It was so overwhelming that I thought: ‘we need something similar in Europe too'

Why is dam removal important to you?

It’s a viable measure to really make a difference for rivers and fish. The river becomes free-flowing and alive again! And I love free-flowing rivers!

How do you hope to make a difference?

By inspiring others, connecting, bring people together and that we all stand up and get activated to show that it’s possible to remove old and obsolete barriers and to start seeing dam removal as a viable option.


Neža Posnjak

Network Coordinator

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
Go with the flow! I've been following rivers and their stories for almost 10 years. Protecting last pristine, untamed rivers and restoring those we have damaged, the red line was clear - free flowing river are the ultimate goal. We need to bring our rivers back to life.

Why is dam removal important to you?
Dam removal an exciting approach to river restoration. Removing the barrier and giving nature space and time to put things in order. Natural order. Much too often we just want to ``manage`` nature, we should first and for most - observe and learn.

How do you hope to make a difference?
Bringing people together, make network of practitioners, experts, authorities and NGOs stronger, more connected and lauder. For rivers, fish and communities that depend on them.

Foivos Alexandros Mouchlianitis

Database manager

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
It’s all about fish! As a fish biologist, specialized on diadromous fish, I have seen firsthand the results of river fragmentation on fish populations, their physiology and their biology, both in my home country as well as halfway across the world!

Why is dam removal important to you?
Have you ever come across this analogy: “Rivers are the veins of our planet and dams are blocking its circulatory system”? Well, I did a few years back, and it’s so accurate! Thus, I decided to do my part to keep our planet healthy.

How do you hope to make a difference?
Creating the first, as accurate as possible, database on dam removals in Europe will be the initial step and analyzing the data will be the second. The dissemination of the results will hopefully assist policy makers to improve the current legislations and the way they consider river management. At the same time, sharing this information with the public and showcasing unique dam removals will hopefully cause the barrier removal movement throughout Europe to boom!

Maria Inês Conceição

Communications Advisor

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
Freedom is probably my favourite word. For that reason, I never stay for too long in the same place, literally and metaphorically. I got to know the concept of free-flowing rivers before moving to The Netherlands, but it was only when I moved here that I saw water like never before. Then, the opportunity to join the Dam Removal Network came up and I thought “why not?”. I may not be super keen on rivers, but I sure know a thing or two about communications. So I decided to take up the challenge and help rivers across the world run a bit more freely… like me!

Why is dam removal important to you?
Rivers are the veins of our planet and should run freely. If - one of - the solutions is “as simple” as demolishing some obsolete dams, what are we waiting for? Let’s gear up and free that river!

How do you hope to make a difference?
By communicating the amazing stories of river heroes around the world and inspiring some more!

Beatrice Alducci

Communications Assistant

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
When I was 4 years old, I started to kayak with my father and that quickly became my way of connecting with nature. Kayaking is one of my biggest passions and I dedicated years of my life to it. By being a member of the Italian national team for several years and by regularly traveling to new rivers, kayaking helped me see our riverine ecosystems through a different lens.

Why is dam removal important to you?
As a kayaker, rivers are our favourite playground! Not only dams are extremely dangerous for kayakers but they also destroy rapids and entire ecosystems.

How do you hope to make a difference?
By sharing successful stories of dam removals, I hope that people will understand to what extent our rivers are endangered and that removing dams is part of the process of healing waterways.

Sam Boireaud

Graphic Designer and Website Manager

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
When I was a kid my favorite video game was Zoo Tycoon and luckily for me, my parents would take me to zoos and nature reserves as often as we could, so I learned about conservation and the importance of harmony between humans and nature very early in my life. This led me to study biology and zoology and eventually aquatic ecosystem. Add that to the fact that I have been drawing since the age of 3 and you start to understand how fulfilling it is to be able to work as an artist for the protection of rivers and the environment.

Why is dam removal important to you?
The vast majority of dam structures in the world and especially in Europe are useless weirs and such that were built a long time ago for reason now irrelevant today. They prevent fish and other lifeforms to pass freely and stop sediments in their track. A free flowing river is healthier, attracts more biodiversity and can be exploited in many durable ways by us. We need to let nature express itself and flow alongside it if we are to build a better society.

How do you hope to make a difference?
I am a graphic artist and communicator, I hope to be making many visuals, banners, comics and illustrations that will reach and touch people in places where they wouldn't have time to read or listen to another types of media.
I believe that this will give me the experience and the tools required to build an audience and a platform that can even inspire decision makers and make our future, as humans, easier.

Isabelle Alten

Dam removal developer

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
My whole life I have been interested in looking and spending time around free flowing rivers. After seeing the movie about the Dambusters, all pieces from my life came together and I immediately felt the need to join the movement.

Why is dam removal important to you?
Over the past years I have come across many parts humans have influenced the natural behavior in our world. The fact that there are still so many (useless) dams located in our rivers makes me concerned, but also inspires me that our current generation has power to change that pattern.

How do you hope to make a difference?
The coming months I will work on a dam removal project in Latvia. There is already a movement going there, and I will do everything to keep that process running. My most important project will be the establishment of a feasibility study for two dams, which would bring back many of free-flowing kilometers and connect the waters with the sea. I hope to achieve this and see it as a starting point for my further actions.

The Dam Removal Europe coalition

Dam Removal Europe is a coalition of seven organisations: WWF, The Rivers Trust, The Nature Conservancy, the European Rivers Network, Rewilding Europe, Wetlands International, and the World Fish Migration Foundation.

Wouter Helmer

Co-founder of Stroming Ltd., ARK Nature and Rewilding Europe

Co-founder of Stroming Ltd., ARK Nature and Rewilding Europe. All my life involved in river restoration and rewilding of floodplains. The socio-economic context is very important for me; always looking for nature-based solutions for problems in water management, climate adaptation, mining activities, drinking water-issues etc. The new nature areas should be accessible for public to enjoy, experience and reconnect with wildlife. It’s essential to show these new ideas on nature based economies and natural processes shaping the river landscapes in pilot areas. That’s what we did and are still doing. First along the Rhine and Meuse in the Netherlands, now – with Rewilding Europe - also along European rivers, from the Coa Valley in Portugal to the Rane river in Lapland, from the Oder in Germany/Poland to the Danube Delta.
Dam Removal is one of the most effective ways to restore rivers and a strong symbol for rewilding in connection with restructuring hydropower, decreasing flood risks and developing rivers that are rich in fish and other life. I’m representing Rewilding Europe in the Dam Removal project team.

Roberto Epple

Founder Chairman of the European Rivers Network ERN

Rivers have been my passion since childhood. So, nothing was more logical than to turn my passion into a professional activity. For decades, I have initiated and coordinated long-term river basin-related campaigns to save the Danube, Ebro, Guadalquivir, Loire, Elbe, and Rhine in partnership with international NGOs, in particular, the WWF international.

I mainly use my experience and expertise as a river expert and communicator to create an efficient interface between politics, science and civil society.

As a result of a 10-year campaign, ``Living Loire`` for the preservation of the wild River Loire, I was able to play a key role in the realization of the first Europe-wide removals of large dams.

To promote international cooperation among NGOs, I founded the European Rivers Network (ERN), which today is linked to many stakeholders in the 50 most important river basins on the European continent.

Misha Nesterenko

Team Leader, Rewilding Europe Ukraine

My name is Misha Nesterenko. I have more than 10 years of work experience in conservation, restoration of wetlands and community development. Yet, I have a good experience in mobilizing stakeholders, conflict resolution and building partnerships to do practical actions. I strongly believe that conservation should stand strongly on real impact on the ground and “act locally but thinking globally” is one of my guiding principles. I do understand the great value of wilderness and cultures in our part of Europe and I would be happy to put my efforts to rewild our rivers and bring back their natural and cultural values.

Sampsa Vilhunen

Director, WWF Finland

My name is Sampsa Vilhunen. Fly-fishing and rivers are my number one passion. For me it has never been satisfying just to see the river from the bank, but I need to get inside the element, to wade deep in its currents, to feel the round rocks below my feet and to meet the local inhabitants – the fish.

Passion for fishing that was given to me at home as a small kid, later drove me into studying aquatic science as well, all the way to PhD. I did my doctoral thesis, of course, on fish behavior 😊

For more than a decade I have been leading the marine and freshwater conservation at the WWF Finland. I love my work in general, and particularly the fact that the work of my team is so concrete, really making a difference on the field removing migration obstacles from our running waters, as well as successfully advocating changes in the legislation that improve the status of endangered migratory fish species. For dam removal, our biggest innovation was Patagonia’s Damnation movie, and later we helped in producing a film of the destructive history of hydro power development in Finland as well.

The work on dam removals in Europe is still in the beginning although there are already great results to be seen. The challenge is immense, but so are also the opportunities! We can widely bring back the aquatic environment that was once lost all across Europe because of unsustainable human development. Today the science is telling us that in order for human kind to save itself, half the planet should be set aside for wildlife.

Join us in bringing back nature and wildlife to Europe!

Sophie Trémolet

Europe Freshwater Director, The Nature Conservancy

Sophie Trémolet is Europe Freshwater Director for The Nature Conservancy, where she leads the development and implementation of activities to restore and protect rivers of high biodiversity value and to accelerate investment in nature-based solutions for water security in Europe as well as globally. She has built strategic relationships with Europe-based public and private funders, utilities, and regulators so as to support a gradual shift towards greater incorporation of nature into water security investments.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy in 2018, Sophie worked for 20 years on issues of financing, institutional and regulatory reforms and private sector participation in the water sector. She started her career as a consultant working for NERA (an economic consultancy) and ERM (an environmental consultancy) before setting up and running Trémolet Consulting, a consultancy specialised in economic and financial aspects of the water sector. As a consultant, she advised a broad range of clients, including major development banks, bilateral donors, NGOs, leading universities, and private foundations.

She then worked for the World Bank as a Senior Economist in the Water Global Practice, where she led the preparation and supervised projects in West Africa, contributed to establishing a new multi-donor Trust Fund and developed the Bank’s approaches and tools in blended finance for water. Sophie holds a double Master’s in Economics and International Development from Sciences-Po (Paris) and Columbia University (New York).


Paul Brotherton

Freshwater Manager, Wetlands International

I am Wetland International Europe’s focal point seeking to accelerate the implementation of EU freshwater-related laws, restore and protect free-flowing rivers and upscale nature-based solutions for inland waters, in collaboration with our members, networks and partnerships in Europe.

I have spent the past two decades at the intersection of conservation science, policy and communications in the US, EU and globally. Rivers run through my experiences – including the Hudson, Niger and Rhine. Before working at the global and European levels for Wetlands International, I spent more than a decade in Washington, DC as the Legislative Director for environmental champion and member of the US House of Representatives Maurice Hinchey and the Research Director at the League of Conservation Voters. I also have significant field experiences researching wetland-dependent species, from the Everglades in the US to the Bolivian Amazon, and for more than 15 years as a volunteer for the Delaware Bay Shorebird Monitoring Program in the US.


Besides the core team, Dam Removal Europe counts on the help of amazing volunteers spread around the world.

Ernie Haglund

Volunteer for DRE in Sweden

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?
My favorite part of life is, and was, from the time words started their formation in me, to rap. And music is my everything. The fact that I’m now doing biology is as fascinating to me as the biology I am doing. I never thought I could love again! Then I got introduced to biology and science. This fact speaks not only to my character, stubborn until new insight. It also speaks to the intensity of nature’s allure. Every day, I am truly amazed by the living world that surrounds -and resides in us. I also love to rap.

Why is dam removal important to you?
As to why we must bust dams; except for the obvious strengthened resilience of our ecosystems etcetera, etcetera... I actually think of loneliness. The other beings besides us have been leaving – but they have ceased returning. We have blocked the entrances up here. I honestly feel a void growing. I simply want more! Everywhere, more of all beings. And yes, I also want working ecosystems that can withstand more, yes.

How do you hope to make a difference?
I will admit that my heart is poetic. But I am, like a lot of people, not working this field from an emotional standpoint. Rather, applying realism and science. And the complexity of nature is still bottomless. Therefore, it's necessary to say the least; to keep working! We need to make society symbiotic with nature. My way of aiding this ambition lie where science meets engineering. Ingenuity from a thorough and steady growing fundament.

Dam Busters

Dam busters contribute to Dam Removal Europe’s mission by finding dams that can be removed, conducting studies and promoting the dam removal movement.

Rene Aalderink

Volunteer Dam Removal Europe

My name is Rene Aalderink, from my early childhoode I spent a lot of time along the Berkel river, fishing, observing, becoming one with nature around me.

After my study environmantal chemistry I worked for some years in ecotoxicologie, I became aware how fragile ecosystems can be, what an impact small amounts of toxcicants can have. Now I am a labtechnician specialized in medicine and pesticide analyses in surface water at water researche laboratory Aqualysis in Zwolle. The quality of surfacewater is monitored off 5 regional water authoritys in the Netherlands, important for the aquatic ecology, the research contributes to the Europeen water-framework directive.

I was very lucky to join the WFMF at some projects abroad. In Sweden I was fascinated by salmon leaping out of the water of the Ätran River. The fish can swim up due to the construction of fish passages, beautiful. I think I can imagine how desperate fish can be if they want to spawn upstream but are not able to reach this point, all of them craving for a dam, smelling their partners, driven by the urge of sex. I was inspired by incredibly enthusiastic people who wanted to make the world a better place for the environment of fish with fish passages and free flowing rivers.

It is unbelievable what the WFMF has achieved so far, for example the organization of the World Fish Migration Day around the world. In a few years this has grown into a gigantic event with hundreds of locations. I am therefore grateful that I can participate as a volunteer at the foundation, in order to make people more aware of the importance of fish migration.

Donne Mathijssen

GIS specialist/volunteer

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?

Growing up in the leading global region on high-tech facilities I considered nature as something that should never be taken for granted. At the same time I spent most of my younger days in or near water bodies, and I still do. My enthusiasm and passion for aquatic ecosystems and their inhabitants, especially fish, is something I want to share with the larger community.

Why is dam removal important to you?

Rivers are the blood supply for our ‘lungs of the earth’, forests. Hence, rivers form the basis for terrestrial life while at the same time being the infrastructure for aquatic migration routes for fish species to fulfil their life cycle. Roadblocks on these migration routes prevent these cycli to be fulfilled with far-reaching ecological consequences.

How do you hope to make a difference?

Aside from the story of the life-sustaining capabilities of rivers I want to strengthen the argument for dam removals with data visualizations. Make sure the larger audience is aware of the spatial scale of rivers that are affected by (obsolete) dams. In combination with ecological analysis this may enable us to pick out priority dam removal candidates that will allow for the recovery of dynamic river ecosystems.

Niccolò Sala

Communication Volunteer

What is a short/cool/ interesting/exciting/weird fact about you that helped lead you where you are now?

My passion for water is rooted to my childhood, to the Tagliamento river in northern Italy where I used to go to my grandparents for the summer holidays. Back in the days, I thought it was just a river, now I know it’s a very special one, the king of the Alps, one of the last of its kind! I remember the joy of swimming in pure clear water, playing with the stones and run around that huge riverbed. I believe that the purity of that place helped me to value nature and shaped who I am and what I do!

Why is dam removal important to you?
A river by definition flows. At the moment this fundamental characteristic is prevented by a barrier every kilometre of river in Europe. I think the removal of these structures is the only possible way to really give a chance to our river systems to thrive again.

How do you hope to make a difference?
I was really keen about becoming a research scientist, but now I realise that the problem we have is not getting more knowledge, but find ways to bridge the available one to the people out there. I hope to amplify the link between river management and the public, between dam removal and policy makers. I believe communication is the tool that has the power to unite these worlds to really make a difference!

Ruben van Treeck

Advisor Dam Removal Europe

What is a short, cool (interesting/exciting/weird) fact about you that helped lead you to where you are now?

One day on a conference my PI pointed me to the foundation’s founder Herman and suggested I should talk to him. I knew the foundation but I didn’t know him, so I went over, introduced myself and told him I’d like to work for him. Which is basically how I ended up here. I find that pretty cool.

Why is dam removal important to you?

I know how important free-flowing rivers are for a healthy ecosystem, but exclusively working as a scientist didn’t do it for me in the long run – I needed to get more active in communicating our knowledge to the people and showcase the amazing work people are doing for our rivers all over Europe.

How do you hope to make a difference?

Bring in fish-ecological expertise and creativity and a hopefully useful go-to attitude.