The three-day kick-off activities of the project “Scaling up dam removal: implementation plan for South-East Europe”, were successfully completed. The meeting took place in Romania between 8-10 November 2023.
On 8 and 9 November the international conference “Our waters – restoring the longitudinal connectivity of Romanian rivers”, organised by project partner Fauna & Flora and coordinating partner World Fish Migration Foundation, took place in Bucharest. The conference was attended by many representatives of the Ministry of Environment and the Romanian Water Directorates, civil society organisations and representatives of the project partners. All of them showed great enthusiasm for the subject and gathered valuable information from the expert speakers, who came from all over the world to share their knowledge and experience of removing barriers in their countries.
On the second day of the conference, participants had the opportunity to gain a hands-on experience by taking part in an excursion on the Vâlsan River, in the Argeș region. The field experience showed how the fragmentation of a river with all kinds of barriers, dams or other structures can lead to the near extinction of the oldest fish species in Europe and possibly in the world, the 65-million-year-old Asprete (Romanian darter).
This was the first conference organised in a partner country of the project “Scaling up dam removal: implementation plan for Southeastern Europe”. Each partner country will organise an international conference to inform a diverse audience (relevant ministries and agencies, NGOs and the research community) about the benefits and challenges of this effort, taking into account examples and know-how from countries that have already successfully started barrier removal, such as the United States of America, France, Spain, Estonia and Lithuania.
The first face-to-face meeting of all project partners took place on 10 November, where each partner presented in detail what their contribution to the project will be and set the timetable for joint communication, management, and networking activities. The Project Manager on behalf of MedINA, Irini Lyratzaki, presented to the partners the current situation with barriers in Greece and stressed that the biggest challenge for our country is the absence of an institutional framework for the removal of barriers from rivers.
The project “Scaling up dam removal: implementation plan for Southeastern Europe” has a duration of three years and is funded by the Open Rivers Programme. The coordinating partner is the World Fish Migration Foundation and the project partners are MedINA, Fauna & Flora, Wetlands International (WI), European Rivers Network (ERN) and WWF Netherlands, WWF Slovakia and WWF Adria.
This is a pioneering programme for Greek standards that will gradually lead to the removal of obsolete barriers from Greek rivers so that they can regain their free flow.
Featured image: The Vâlsan River in Romania, habitat of the Asprete fish. © I. Lyratzaki / MedINA.