“Obere Isar_Franz Speer”
© Franz Speer

Dam removal goes Alps 2021

Online seminar series about the ecological, economic and social benefits of dam removal

Tuesday, May 4 – Friday, May 7, 2021
Each afternoon, 2-5 pm



Join the online seminar and learn from dam removal experiences from all over Europe! Discuss the ecological, economic and social benefits of dam removal and network with all relevant actors of the subject. We encourage practitioners from authorities, planning offices, nature conservation and science to recreational users, tourism experts and politicians to take part in the event. And of course, everybody interested in free-flowing rivers in the alpine region is more than welcome to join.


© Sigrun Lange, WWF Deutschland





© Chainarong Prasertthai / iStock / Getty Images



The online seminar will take place in the first week of May, from Tuesday to Friday afternoon. Each afternoon session has a thematic focus and will be enriched with vivid keynote speeches, case studies, and showcases from international experts:

  • May 4, 2021: What is on stake? Why do we need dam removal?
  • May 5, 2021: How to push dam removal forward?
  • May 6, 2021: Benefits of dam removal to nature and people
  • May 7, 2021: Political frameworks and financing

Have a look at our DETAILED PROGRAMME

Each session will be opened by a keynote that introduces the general topic of the session. Afterwards successful renaturation projects will be presented as showcases with videos and live reporting. Thereafter we offer four different workshop sessions in smaller groups with different focus themes. You can choose which you’d like to attend and in which area you’d like to deepen your knowledge.

During the whole seminar we’d like to offer you the chance to have a mutual exchange with other attendees so that you can get in touch with other relevant players in the field of river renaturation.


Over 35 international experts will give an input during various sessions with different focus themes. Some of them are:

  • Dr. Klement Tockner, Director General of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research (Germany), about the importance and the threats to river ecosystems
  • Teppo Säkkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland, about the Finish government program to restore migratory fish populations
  • Beth Lambert, Director at Division of Ecological Restoration, Department of Fish and Game, Government of Massachusetts, USA about ecological, social and economic benefits from dam removal projects
  • Christophe Poupard, Director for knowlegde and water planning, Agence de l'Eau Seine-Normandie about the biggest dam removal in Europe, the Vezins Dam on the Sélune River
  • Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, Swansea University (UK), with an overview presentation of river fragmentation in Europe

... and a lot of other experts from the dam removal world.

© Vorauer

Hornbach, Tirol

Schöftland, Switzerland

Bražuolė, Lithuania

© Landesfischereiverband Bayern e.V.

Mitternacher Ohe, Bavaria


Various successful dam removal and renaturation projects will be presented within the seminar.

Dam removal in the river Hornbach, Tirol - Natura 2000 site Lechtal

In the river Hornbach in Tirol three check dams were removed as part of a large restoration project (LIFE Wildflusslandschaft Tiroler Lech), releasing 150.000 m³ of gravel downstream. This measure was taken to counteract the incision of the riverbed, leading to higher groundwater levels and therefore a more natural flooding regime. As a tributary to the river Lech the Hornbach restoration also helped to restore the braided river system of the Lech.

Schöftland, Switzerland – a removal of a small powerplant

The powerplant in Schöftland was a so called “water vortex powerplant”. This is a special type of powerplant in which a lot people had very high expectations. Unfortunately most of those promises couldn’t be fulfilled, so it had to be removed again. We followed the removal and will now have a look at the situation two years after the removal.

Bražuolė - the first dam removal in Lithuania

July 2020 was marked by a historic moment in Lithuania’s environmentalism. That month the first artificial barrier was removed in Lithuania to restore river connectivity of the Bražuolė river. The removal of Bražuolė weir has demonstrated that obsolete barriers can be easily demolished and deliver promising results regarding improved water and habitat quality. Removal of such barriers can contribute to achieving national and international environmental targets.

Bavaria: Removal of the Mitternach-Mühle hydropower plant

Since 2013, Bavaria’s Mitternacher Ohe is once again flowing freely and unhindered along its total length of around 17 km. With the removal of the Mitternach-Mühle hydropower plant by the Bavarian Fisheries Association (Landesfischereiverband Bayern), the last of what used to be three transverse structures disappeared. As a result, brook trout, huchen, lampreys and river pearl mussels can once again migrate freely. The complete passability of the river and the habitat improvement at the Mitternacher Ohe outweigh the lost contribution to climate protection and energy transition ecologically many times over.


You want to see more about our speakers before the seminar? Have a look at our interview videos with some of them:

Prof. Dr. Klement Tockner about the significance of free flowing rivers

Beth Lambert about ecological, social and economic benefits from dam removal projects

Kim Birnie-Gauvin about freshwater ecosystems as hotspots for biodiversity

Gregory Egger about the state of the rivers in the Alps (in German only)

Johannes Schnell, Landesfischereiverband Bayern e.V. about the impact of dams on fish populations (in German only)

Download area

You have missed something?

No problem! Have a look at our download site. There you’ll find the videos and presentations that have been presented during the seminar. After the seminar we will upload a seminar resumé that will sum up all topics of the seminar, include facts and lessons learnt about the presented case studies and give continuative information to each presentation.


email: damremoval-alps2020@wwf.de
phone: +49 30 311777 354

WWF Deutschland
Büro Wildflüsse & Alpen
Münchener Straße 27
82362 Weilheim i.OB


Dam Removal Europe is a project that allows relevant specialists to connect with one another. Through DRE conferences we can all share our knowledge and inspire new visions for a free-flowing Europe. Dam Removal Europe offers a website to communicate about removals, share news and information, and upload movies: damremoval.eu