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Navarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their rivers

Oyereghi (Navarra) – Navarre, Basque Country and the French region of New Aquitaine, partners of the European project “LIFE Kantauribai for the ecological improvement of the Natura 2000 river network in the Bay of Biscay”, will remove 25 artificial obstacles in the next few years of their rivers to improve their biodiversity.

In particular, the project, presented this Friday in Señorio de Bertis (Navarra), aims to improve the state of conservation of species and habitats associated with the river ecosystem of the rivers and tributaries flowing into the Bay of Biscay.

Liberation of 85 kilometers of riverbeds

This initiative, led by the Government of Navarre through GAN-NIK, involves the demolition of 25 obstacles, including the Articutza dam, and the release of 85 kilometers of channels along five river basins divided between three regions: Oria and Urumea (Navarra and Gipuzkoa). , La Nive and La Nivelle (Navarre and New Aquitaine) and Bidasoa (common for the three regions).

The total budget of the project is 10,858,333 euros, with 60% co-financing from the European Union under the LIFE program (6,514,995 euros), and its implementation will last from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2027.

Navarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their riversNavarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their rivers
Presentation of the European project “LIFE Kantauribai for the environmental improvement of the Natura 2000 river network in the Bay of Biscay”. EFE/Jesus Diges

LIFE Kantauribai seeks to improve the fragmentation of rivers due to the presence of obstacles that lead to a poor state of conservation of species and habitats through the ecological restoration of river connectivity and the elimination of causes of mortality.

It is “a necessary initiative to conserve riverine biodiversity and restore connectivity to rivers that have been divided too many times and mistreated with infrastructure and waterworks that are now obsolete,” said the Minister of the Environment of the Government of Navarre. , Itziar Gomez.

To achieve these goals, a number of actions will be taken, among which the demolition of 25 obstacles stands out, as a result of which a total of 85 kilometers of canals, 26 kilometers of main channels (13 in the Urumea River, 6 in Oria and 7 in Bidasoa) and 59 km in secondary channels (8.4 km in the Urumea basin, 1.2 km in the Oria basin, 33 km in the Bidasoa basin and 17 km in La Nivelle).

Deactivation of the Artikutsa Dam

Among the demolitions stands out the decommissioning of the Enobieta (Articutza) dam, located in Navarre and owned by the city council of San Sebastian. It is the largest infrastructure in Spain that has been devastated and is processing disqualification.

Navarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their riversNavarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their rivers
Minister of the Environment of the Government of Navarre, Itziar Gomez. EFE/Jesus Diges

Similarly, the permeability of seven other obstacles is assumed, the demolition of which is impossible to facilitate the passage of fish.

Other notable actions are the installation of automated control and monitoring systems for migratory fish species with minimal human intervention; restoration and improvement of natural habitats and habitats of species; and improving the state of conservation of margaritífera rivers through the strengthening of populations and movements.

Also improving the conservation status of the Iberian muskrat and the European mink in rivers by improving the connectivity of their populations and through direct action to reduce the main threats to the last nuclei of both species.

In addition, control and/or eradication of invasive exotic species (American mink, coypu, muskrat and various flora) present in the rivers is envisaged, as well as the establishment of an international coordinating body for the management and monitoring of migratory fish. species between the three regions of the Bidasoa River.

Navarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their riversNavarre, Basque Country and France to remove 25 obstacles from their rivers
Manuel Gutiérrez, President of the Cantabrian Hydrographic Confederation. EFE/Jesus Diges

Project with 13 partners

The project has 13 partners: GAN-NIK; Cantabrian Hydrographic Confederation; Provincial Council of Guipuzcoa; Basque Water Agency; the municipalities of San Sebastian and Errenteria; Iberdrola; Center for Agricultural and Food Technologies; Conservatory Despaces Naturels de Nouvelle-Aquitaine; Research Group on Environmental Management; National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment; Scimabio interface; and the EFE agency.

In Navarre, it provides for actions in the amount of 3,990,160 euros. The costs corresponding to the agreement between the General Directorate of the Environment and the Public Company for Environmental Management amount to 961,458 euros.

Enrique Ramos, Director of Water Works of the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, who appreciated the importance of cooperation between institutions, stressed that rivers “are the great forgotten” despite the fact that “they are important elements of biodiversity.”

Manuel Gutiérrez, president of the Cantabrian Hydrographic Confederation, indicated that the rivers in the area are “very short and with a very high density of obstacles”. For this reason, the entity plans to remove over 2600 obstacles throughout the territory, of which almost half are useless (198 of them in Navarre.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org