Publications on River Restoration in Europe

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AN ANALYSIS OF RIVER FRAGMANTATION IN THE SPANISH RIVER BASINS

Rivers are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world (Dudgeon et al 2006), especially affected by the longitudinal disconnection of the fluvial systems. Longitudinal connectivity in rivers is an extremely important concept that is altered by human activities such as flow regulation produced by dams, weirs and other barriers, disrupting the upstream-downstream linkages in the river (Ward 1989). The loss of longitudinal connectivity in rivers is a major problem worldwide as a result of the dam development (Gought et al. 2012).

Dams and weirs are necessary for human activities; they support agriculture and industry, provide water for human consumption, prevent flooding and also generate electricity. All this makes the dams important for society and, for this reason, they is no general intention to manage the passability of these obstacles.

Spain is one of the countries with the largest number of damsin the world. The existence of more than 1,500 large dams is documented (MAPAMA 2016). Of the total, 353 are state-owned and 1185 belong to private owners.

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In spite of this, the public information on inventory of barriers still remains heterogeneous and incomplete (although there has been a progress in the availability of this information in recent years). There is evidence that the current inventories developed by the different River Basin Districts of the country determine the existence of about 26,000 barriers in our rivers, but it is estimated that the actual number can approach to more than 50,000 obstacles. These inventories are not always available for the public, which is a problem because this information can generate awareness in the society about the problem of the loss of longitudinal connectivity in Spain due to the presence of barriers.

 

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