Free-flowing rivers | WWF

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FREE-FLOWING RIVERS

© Michel Gunther, WWF

Rivers are the lifeblood of our planet. They allow us to move and thrive, enriching our lives beyond our biological needs. Preserving them secures our future, giving the Earth a chance to recover what has been lost.

PULSE OF OUR PLANET

Free-flowing rivers and wetlands are the lifelines we depend on. They contribute immensely to our quality of life and are crucial for adaptation to climate change. Yet, despite their enormous value, we have been abusing our rivers for centuries, turning them into docile, dull and dead watercourses.

Today, more than 60% of rivers in Europe are in bad health, resulting in a huge loss of biodiversity and the numerous benefits rivers provide to people. However, some of the last free-flowing rivers can be found in the Adria region, and we are dedicated to protecting them.

Did you know?

Only around 30% of the world’s largest rivers are still free-flowing.

© Saimir Kalbaj

NOT SO GREEN AFTER ALL – THE HYDRO CRISIS

More than 2.500 small hydropower plants are planned or currently being constructed in the Adria region. If this is allowed the individual and cumulative effects of this development will be hard to imagine. People will lose access to their rivers – the heritage of countless generations – and everything they provide. Damage to nature would be severe, reducing the resilience of the entire system and exposing us to unpredictable outcomes.
 
The recent upsurge in small hydro development in Adria countries is directly driven by systems of subsidies, resulting in increased profitability for investors. From this, coupled with dubious private interests and a blatant disregard for the needs and wishes of local communities, we can only conclude that all is in place for the destruction of the last remaining free-flowing rivers in Europe. We have a responsibility to stop this!

In Europe, more than 30.000 dams and countless other obstacles disrupt our rivers.

© Michel Gunther, WWF

WHAT WE'RE DOING

Together with local communities, decision-makers and scientists, we are working to prevent unsustainable hydropower practices, developing ways of mitigating the impact of existing dams, strengthening local initiatives in movements to protect streams and rivers, and encouraging decision makers to implement nature-based solutions for efficient water management and flood protection.
 
We are also implementing river restoration projects in the region, removing barriers and reintroducing plant and animal species to increase the resilience of our freshwater ecosystems, ensuring lasting benefits for people and nature.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

The next few years are vital if we are to save the planet. We know we have the solutions, but we can’t do it alone – your help is critical. Support us, add your voice to our campaigns, share news of our successes.

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