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Removing tens of thousands of obsolete dams in Europe will bring life back to rivers

We proudly present: The Dam Removal Europe Policy Report: A viable solution for the future of our European Rivers

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With only 40 percent of Europe’s waterways in good condition, this new study calls for tens of thousands of redundant dams and other barriers to be removed to help restore rivers and lakes – boosting wildlife populations and benefiting communities across the continent.

This report stresses that the density of dams, weirs and locks in Europe is far higher than previously suspected, with salmon, eel, sturgeon and other migratory fish encountering obstacles every kilometer on average. Previously, only dams higher than 10 metres were counted, but these represent less than 3 percent of all river barriers.

It is estimated that in France, Spain, Poland and the UK alone, there are up to 30,000 mainly small dams which are now obsolete. There is no comprehensive study yet on the total number of obsolete dams in Europe, but the real figure is most probably many times higher. While these barriers provide no benefits to communities, they still prevent rivers from flowing freely, contributing to the disappearance of freshwater species, particularly migratory fish that cannot reach their spawning grounds. Obviously, this also affects birds feeding on fish as well as many other animals.

The report calls for governments across Europe to start removing these redundant dams, which will breathe life back into river systems and provide new economic opportunities for local economies. It will also help countries comply with the Water Framework Directive and boost efforts to reach its ambitious goals.

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