Adaptive Management of Barriers in European Rivers
AMBER seeks to apply adaptive management to the operation of barriers in European rivers to achieve a more effective and efficient restoration of stream connectivity. To do this, we are developing tools, models, and toolkits that will allow hydropower companies and river managers to maximize benefits and minimize ecological impacts. This will improve energy security, help protect jobs, and boost European competitiveness, particularly in rural economies.
This project will also help protect global biodiversity in rivers by decreasing fragmentation, promoting habitat connectivity, and evaluating the merits of different restoration actions through developed tools.
Many dams continue to perform essential functions for society. They support water abstraction for domestic and industrial use, facilitate navigation for commerce and trade, provide fishing and leisure opportunities, and may also help to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Critically, increasing demands for hydropower and water abstraction, will likely lead to the construction of new dams, as well as the rehabilitation of old, abandoned weirs.
However, river fragmentation is mainly caused by these barriers, particularly, those which are old and no longer in use. Reducing fragmentation is one of the priorities for more efficient stream restoration and achieving 'good ecological status' under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
AMBER proposes to address the challenge of river fragmentation through an adaptive management process. This involves finding an optimal balance of the benefits and impacts of barriers on river habitat to improve future river ecosystem restoration, and achieving the most cost-effective management in the short term.
Twenty active partners together form the AMBER consortium. They include large hydropower businesses, rivers authorities, non-governmental organisations, universities and the European Joint Research Centre.
These institutions are spread throughout Europe including Poland, Italy, Germany, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. A large number of end-users have been identified representing stakeholder interests not only in every single European Member State, but also in European Free Trade Association countries. The team showcases what Europe can achieve in terms of international strategic collaboration, while knowledge transfer promoted through the consortium will help to overcome the innovation divide between regions
AMBER also includes a ‘citizen science’ programme to involve authorities, NGOs and the public in data collection and dissemination.