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Hydropower in Europe : Transformation – not development (WWF Report)

European rivers are the most fragmented in the world, contributing to the rapid decline in freshwater biodiversity.
As a result, a drastic transformation of the hydropower sector is urgently needed to reduce its environmental
impact. This can be achieved through several steps: the first one is to stop building new hydropower plants which worsen the fragmentation of rivers and lead to the loss of precious habitats and species.

The second step is to lessen the environmental impact of existing plants through plant environmental refurbishment. From ecological flows to acquiring knowledge on fish migration patterns, hydropower plants can be adapted and managed in a more nature- sensitive manner, as illustrated by a case study on the Allier River in the Loire Valley, France.

The third step is the restoration of the rivers’ natural functions,
in particular continuity and habitats. The case study on the construction of a reproduction channel next to the Imatra hydropower plant in Finland, illustrates active restoration measures that should be taken to complement mitigation measures at the plant itself.

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