Skip to main content
NewsSeminars/ Workshops/ Conferences and Meetings

Dam Removal Award

By January 31, 2023March 6th, 2023No Comments

European Dam Removal Award 2022

We are excited to announce the European Dam Removal Award 2022 for the most inspiring riverine barrier removal. Rivers full of fish and thriving communities around them are dear to our hearts and we want to hear your story!  

Barrier removals come in all shapes and sizes – we are not looking for the tallest dam or the longest culvert, but rather your story, how it began, what were the main drivers, challenges on the way and how you overcame them. And nonetheless, the results after the removal! 

About the award
Dam Removal Europe presents the annual Dam Removal Award. This is the first of its kind in Europe. We celebrate the most innovative and inspiring barrier removals in European rivers. We want to praise dam removal practitioners, river-users, communities and authorities who put their hearts into these projects and enable them to keep up with the good work to restore free-flowing rivers. The award is hosted by Dam Removal Europe, the World Fish Migration Foundation, the European Investment Bank, the Nature Conservancy and supported by the Dutch Postcode Lottery and Forest Peace Foundation. The most inspiring project will be awarded 10.000 euro towards the team’s next removal project and handed out the Happy Fish Statue for a year! 

This year’s award is an occasion to mark the best dam removal project from 2022 in Europe. Its purpose is to give the civil society coalitions who complete successful removals recognition for what they have achieved and encourage them to continue working in this field in the future. So, if you and your partners are proud, then let that inspire more people to follow in your footsteps! 

Submissions are open until March 13, 2023. The Award winner will be announced at the upcoming UK Dam Removal Europe Conference in Manchester, UK (May 18-19, 2023). 

Submit your project before March 13, 2023

Happy Fish statue at Imatra Cityhall in South Karelia, Finland. The home of 2021 Dam Removal Award winner where Hiitolanjoki river is flowing freely again (credit Hanna Ollikainen).

How to apply?
Share your awesome initiative in our online application form on Zealous. Carefully read the general rules and guidelines that will help you prepare your submission.  

We advise you to look at the form first, prepare your answers and mandatory uploads and then start filling in the submission form. The form will ask you some questions about the barrier (location, use, height, etc.) followed by 4 open questions about the project regarding innovation, challenges, impact, and stakeholder involvement. There are also three mandatory uploads: (1) a high resolution photo of the barrier before the removal, (2) a high resolution photo of the barrier after the removal, (3) a one-minute-long video briefly explaining the project and telling us why your project should win the award 

Calls are open between February 1, 2023 12:00 CET and March 13, 2023, 12:00 CET. If you encounter troubles submitting the project, please contact Neza Posnjak ( before the nomination deadline stated above.

Submit to European Dam Removal Award 2022 on Zealous

General rules:

  • The barrier removal project must have been completed in 2022. This means that the technical works of the dam removal are have been executed.
  • 1 project per organisation (or partnership of organisations) can be nominated.
  • Projects can only be submitted by the primary organisation responsible for the execution of the project.
  • Only 1 organisation can apply on behalf of a partnership or coalition.
  • One barrier removal project can also mean that multiple barrier removals were completed in 2022.
  • Only complete applications submitted by the deadline will be taken into account.
  • We will not discuss or justify the choices of the jury and outside of discovery of disqualifying facts, all decisions are final.
  • By submitting your pictures and video, you agree that Dam Removal Europe can use them in our its communication. Make sure to include any photo credit and/or copyright information.
  • Award winning projects cannot be submitted again.
  • Submissions must be filed in the English language.

Selection process
All submissions will be checked for compliance with general rules and only complete submissions (including mandatory uploads) will be accepted. The jury will select five projects and nominate them for the award. This year we are also introducing public vote. In April, nominated projects will be presented to the public in order to vote for their favorite. The public vote together with the jury vote will define the winner of the award. The winner will be announced during the official award ceremony, which will take place as part of the UK Dam Removal Conference in Manchester on the evening of May 18, 2023. The nominated projects will be invited to the ceremony. 

Criteria for selection 

  • Relative importance of the project for the river, reasons for removal, and rationale for removing the barrier.
  • Replication potential of the project, involvement of stakeholders.
  • Ecological, social, economic, and potential climate impacts of the removal.
  • Experience and learning opportunities.
  • Video with statement of why the project should win the award.

You will be informed about every step of the process automatically through the award submission platform Zealous. 

Disclaimer: The selection procedure will be done by an independent team to prevent potential conflicts of interest. For the Dam Removal Europe partners which are also removing dams themselves, this means that they will not be involved in the pre-selection nor the jury procedure. 

The jury
The Dam Removal Award jury is international and interdisciplinary. The members are experts in nature conservation, freshwater ecosystems, fish, community innovations and communications. Each of them brings their perspective on barrier removal and river restoration and together they form a balanced team. 

The award
The 5 nominated projects will be invited to the UK Dam Removal Conference in Manchester and each project will receive 1 free conference ticket and 2 hotel nights in Manchester. The monetary prize for the most inspiring project is 10.000 euro, which is to be spent on the winners’ next removal. Besides the cash prize, the winner will be given the Happy Fish statue and will hold on to it for a year until they hand it over to next year’s winner. This is a symbolic gesture that connects removals around Europe. Runners-up will receive practical prizes. All nominated projects will be highlighted in Dam Removal Europe communication channels. 

Please submit your application before March 13, 2023! 

Submit to European Dam Removal Award 2022 on Zealous

Don’t be shy, every removal counts! Every removal is unique and no matter the size it takes a lot of time and effort to make it happen. 


More Dam Removal news?