New funding for European dam removal launched

Published on October 8, 2021

Today is a good day for rivers, biodiversity and migratory fish. Together with Professor Peter Baldwin and Dr Lisbet Rausing, founders of Arcadia, the Dam Removal Europe Coalition launched an entirely new programme to fund dam removal in Europe.

The new Open Rivers Programme comes with dedicated funding of 42.5 million Euro and is entirely focused on restoring rivers by removing dams. The Dam Removal Europe Coalition and the funders hope that this 6-year initiative will greatly speed up the process of dam removal in Europe.

European rivers are the most fragmented in the world and one of the main reasons are the many man-made barriers, which impede river flow and have led to the loss of many species and habitats. According to the founders of the Programme, dam removal is a relatively cost effective and quick way to restore river continuity. Previous experience shows that this is likely to result in improved water quality and greater biodiversity both in rivers and in their surrounding habitats, as well as an increase in habitat connectivity and resilience. 

With over one million barriers in European rivers, there is a need to prioritise. The Programme will focus on dam removal projects with the greatest possible impact on restoring river ecosystems. Organisations and communities working to restore rivers will be able to apply for grants that:

  1. Support the removal of small dams (up to 2 metres in height) in rivers.
  2. Support essential preparatory work that will result in a dam removal.
  3. Support the dam removal movement so that dam removal becomes more widely accepted and implemented in order to restore more rivers across Europe.

A selection of projects have already secured grants, starting in February 2022, and a call for Expressions of Interest will be launched on 12 November 2021, with projects due to start from May 2022.